Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Celebrating love with a cozy weekend breakfast

Breakfast has to be my favourite meal of the day. During the week, it’s always something quick, and usually something off of Marianne’s grab-and-go breakfast list. I was on a baked oatmeal kick for a while, too, and Carly’s Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal really hit the spot.

Weekends are when I really take advantage of my leisure time and whip up something special. My hubby is often at the gym in the morning and I sleep in, so I fly solo for breakfast. Even though I don’t love cooking for one, I still make an effort to make something interesting that will satisfy my breakfast cravings and show my body that I cherish it as well. If you know me, you know that I usually don’t get going until about 11 or 12 on the weekend. I don’t usually have breakfast in bed, but you’ll often find me cuddled up by the fire in a cozy blanket when I’m having breakfast and a hot cup of coffee enjoying “me time”.

eggs in tomato sauce, cutlery, toast

Enjoy this cozy weekend breakfast in bed- or not!

When my hubby is home, spending the morning together is endearing, and it’s sometimes nice to have breakfast in bed, if not cuddled up on the couch together. This is especially true for special occasions like Valentine’s Day or our wedding anniversary when we have an opportunity to show our love for each other. This year, Valentine’s Day isn’t on a weekend, but our anniversary is, so we’ll be cozying up for a weekend breakfast. We will also be welcoming a new addition to the family this summer so there will be a lot of love going around this year!

I have a few go-to weekend breakfasts in my repertoire that I cook for myself, plus or minus my hubby:

  • Oatmeal pancakes with warmed up berries
  • Whole grain cinnamon French toast
  • Almond Belgian waffles (made with my new waffle iron that I gifted myself this Christmas)

This time around, I’ll probably go for something that packs a protein and veggie punch to nourish my growing belly as well as shows my love for my husband (did I mention he’s a protein fanatic?). I tried a similar dish to the one below at a restaurant in Vancouver, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. I never thought I would like tomatoes with my eggs, but this is definitely a winning combo in my books. When I make it, it’s always a little different depending on what I have in my fridge and pantry – adding things like spinach, peppers, chickpeas, potatoes, pesto, balsamic vinegar, etc.. Use the recipe below as a base and add to it whatever you love.

I served my eggs with one of my favourite breads from Lac La Hache Bakery- the Sunflower Medium Rye.

Enjoy it in bed – or not!

Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Pinch thyme, dried or fresh
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 T feta cheese or your favourite cheese

Directions:

  1. In a frying pan on medium heat, sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to let flavours marry.
  3. Add the potatoes into the sauce.
  4. Crack the eggs onto the sauce.
  5. Cover the pan with a lid and cook until whites of the eggs are cooked. This is how I like my eggs- leaving the yolks still runny.
  6. Top with feta cheese and serve with toast or your favourite breakfast bread.

Note: You can also use leftover tomato sauce from the night before or pre-made sauce to speed up the cooking time.

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.

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Quality counts! 3 tips for Nutrition Month

Last week, dietitians Marianne & Rebecca provided some tips to get you ready for a 100 meal journey.

Did you have the chance to think about what your small, nourishing changes could be?

If you’re still looking for positive, easy changes to make to your eating habits, for Week 2 of Nutrition Month, we suggest looking at quality! Get clever with your cooking, swap in nutrient-rich choices to stay energized, and more!

Here are Rebecca & Marianne’s favourite tips for this week.

Berry smoothie

What small steps can you take to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks? How about a super smoothie for breakfast?

Tip #1: Jump-start your day! Power through your morning by eating a good breakfast.

A nourishing breakfast gives you a fuel boost plus protein and fibre to help you stay alert and avoid mid-morning munchies.

In a hurry?

  • Blend frozen berries, yogurt and milk for a super smoothie. Make it even better with baby spinach and ground flax.
  • Wrap peanut butter, a banana and trail mix in a whole-grain tortilla for a portable, crunchy breakfast.

Have time?

  • Make a burrito with scrambled egg, lentils or soft tofu, sautéed red pepper, avocado and salsa wrapped in a warm tortilla.
  • Top French toast with yogurt, sunflower seeds and warm sautéed apple slices.

For more breakfast inspiration, visit Cookspiration.

Plate of roasted sweet potatoes

Don’t think of them as leftovers – think of them as “planned extras”! Are you roasting sweet potatoes for dinner? Add a few more and layer them on whole-grain bread for a delicious and nutritious lunch!

Tip #2: Forget the food court! Pack good food fast with “planned extra” leftovers for lunch.

Packing lunch is a healthy, budget-friendly habit. Keep it simple: reinvent “planned extra” leftovers for a lunch that’s way better than the food court. Try these tasty ideas:

  • Cook extra chicken for dinner. For lunch, wrap chicken in soft tacos, with crunchy cabbage and shredded carrots, a sprinkle of feta and big squeeze of juicy lime.
  • Roast extra root veggies. Layer them on crusty whole grain bread with hummus and baby spinach for a scrumptious sandwich.
  • Toss extra cooked whole wheat pasta, couscous or barley with pesto, cherry tomatoes, lentils and small cheese chunks for a protein-packed salad.

The Dietitians of Canada have lots of creative ways to cook with leftovers.

Tip #3: Clever cooking! Flavour food with tangy citrus, fresh herbs and fragrant spices.

There are lots of simple ways to cook healthy without sacrificing taste. Try these tips to add flavour to meals:

  • Add pizzazz to plain grains and pulses by cooking barley, brown rice or lentils in low-sodium broth.
  • Stir ½ to 1 cup of canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato into muffin batter for a veggie boost.
  • Make a luscious mashed potato with roasted garlic, a little olive oil and warm milk.
  • Purée vegetable soups, such as potato, sweet potato or broccoli, with low-sodium broth for deliciously creamy texture and taste.

For delicious recipes with a healthy twist, visit Healthy Families BC.

What small steps can you take to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks?


These tips are adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month and join other Canadians on a 100 Meal Journey at nutritionmonth2016.ca.

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog. (Vince no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)

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Foodie Friday: Caffeine!

Coffee mug and coffee beans on burlap

Did you know that for adults, Health Canada recommends a maximum daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine? That’s about 3 metric cups of brewed coffee – and most mugs hold two cups or more!

In February, people across Canada are buying coffee in droves in the hope of winning the 1 in 6 prizes posted in every Tim Hortons for their “Roll up the Rim” contest. I have to admit, I haven’t made the posted odds – I average 1 in 10 when it comes to wins!

The idea of buying coffee to win coffee inspired me for this Foodie Friday blog: let’s talk coffee! Or, more nutritionally relevant, caffeine. Today, I’ll explore what caffeine does in the body, how much we can have in a day, and what steps we can take to help reduce the daily amount of caffeine we consume.

Like most individuals, I wake up in the morning and without even thinking, I’ve added water to the coffee machine and am carefully measuring out the number of scoops to make the perfect pot of coffee. After the first sip, I am sighing with relief knowing that I will make it through the day.

I began to question what it is about coffee that “pumps” me up for the day. After a little digging, I discovered, not surprisingly, that caffeine is a mild stimulant. It helps delay drowsiness and speeds up reaction time. But why?

Well, it blocks an important neurotransmitter in the brain, adenosine, responsible for slowing down nerve impulses. Imagine Highway 16 free of traffic lights, construction and roadblocks and you have the effects of caffeine on your brain. This may sound like utopia; however, like our cars on the highway, our brains also need moments to slow down. How else do you expect to turn left on the highway or calm down enough at night to fall asleep?

20160219-DFerretti2-504x504This brings me to the next question: how much? Health Canada suggests that adults limit our caffeine intake to no more than 400 mg/day. Initially, this sounds like I have plenty of room to play with, but as you look into how much caffeine is in what we eat and drink, you quickly learn that 400 mg/day translates to approximately 3 cups of brewed coffee. And this part is important: I’m not talking about three ventis from Starbucks or three extra large coffees from Tim Hortons – both of which are 4 cups of brewed coffee each – rather, the limit is three 250 ml (the equivalent to 1 metric cup) cups of coffee per day.

Once I processed these recommendations, I quickly measured my cup at home and discovered it holds two cups (500 ml) alone! And this was only my first “cup” of coffee of the day! I typically drive through Tims on my way to work and grab another medium coffee for the commute – almost another two metric cups. No wonder I have the jitters when I get to work! It’s likely not from the traffic but the effect of too much coffee! Other symptoms of too much caffeine can include insomnia, headaches and irritability.

Did I forget to mention that caffeine also increases the brain’s dopamine levels? Translated, this is the brain’s happy feeling chemical. As a dietitian, this sparked another interest: are there other foods that increase the brain’s dopamine levels so that I arrive at work happy without needing coffee? I uncovered that, of course, there are!

Some of the most common foods with this property include bananas, milk, proteins, wheat germ, and beets. Well, I’m not going to get too crazy and introduce beets to my morning routine, but I know that I can definitely incorporate more traditional breakfast items such as bananas, milk, protein and wheat germ.

So, my challenge for tomorrow will be switching my morning cup of joe for either half decaf or a cup of tea and opting instead for a slice of whole wheat toast (wheat germ) with peanut butter (protein), a glass of milk and a banana – both my brain and metabolism will thank me!

Let’s be honest, though, I will still probably get my morning drive through for the commute – I have to improve my odds of winning!

Dena’s Coffee-Free Breakfast Challenge

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat toast
  • Peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Milk

Instructions

  1. Spread peanut butter on toast.
  2. Enjoy your dopamine-releasing breakfast alongside a cup of tea or decaf coffee!

About Dena Ferretti

Photo & bio coming soon!

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

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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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  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!

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Eating 9 to 5: Highlights, Week 1 winners, and taking on lunch during Week 2!

We had some great entries into Week 1 of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! In total, 29 team and individual entries made it into the first draw, with the Northern Healthy Eaters taking home the first week’s prize of 4 Dietitians of Canada cookbooks! We’ll get to some Week 1 highlights in just a sec, but first, if you haven’t downloaded the Week 2: Lunch Challenge Sheet, get on it! We want to hear about your leftovers, your soups and sandwiches, and whatever else you and/or your team bring to the office every day as a midday meal, as well as how you make that meal healthy! To enter the draw for the Week 2 prize of 4 Thermos lunch bags, you need to have your sheet submitted by March 15, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Remember, you can still enter to win the individual grand prize draw for the Vitamix blender by completing all four Challenge Sheets.

So, how did Week 1 go (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is awesome!)? Check out some of the highlights below!

From our Breakfast Recipe Challenge:

A banana is cut to look like a dolphin.

This might not be the quickest meal for during the week, but it’ll definitely entertain the kids!

If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a banana into a dolphin (and who hasn’t?!?), then here’s how you make this masterpiece:

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup granola
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt

Instructions

“Cut 2 inches off the stem end of the banana, leaving the skin and stem on, cutting at an angle so that the end you have cut off sits on the plate like a dolphin’s head coming out of the water. Cut the very end of the stem off leaving the rest for the dolphin’s nose, and cut it from the end towards the base of the stem to make the dolphin’s mouth. Insert a large blueberry into the cut opening. Peel the rest of the banana and slice off just a bit of the outside of the curve so that the banana will sit firmly on the plate, and then cut a angled groove along the length of the banana to make a channel for the yogurt to be added. Add enough yogurt to overfill the groove. Add blueberries on top of the yogurt running the length of the groove. Pile the remaining yogurt on the side of the plate and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries around the plate and on the pile of remaining yogurt. Then sprinkle ½ of the granola over the blueberries and yogurt. Sprinkle the remaining granola around the plate for garnish! The kids will love this delicious and nutritious breakfast, and so will the kid in you!!!” Thanks to team As Healthy As Reasonably Achievable (AHARA) for that!

The tips from our Did You Know… Challenge about saving time in the mornings were pretty unanimous: get your breakfast, lunch, and even clothing choices ready the night before to make for a smooth morning!

In the Creative Challenge, we got a ton of great poems, drawings, and more. Here are a couple examples:

Poems:

An Ode to Muffins

Muffins muffins muffins,

Who doesn’t love muffins

Whole grain’er, no brainer!

Flax, fill to the max!

Pumpkin chai, oh my!

Berries and Seeds, yes please!!

 

Breakfast For a Good Day

Wholewheat bread and farm-fresh eggs,

Oranges and apples too.

Oatmeal, yogurt and bananas,

Are all good for you.

Don’t eat too much,

Don’t eat too late.

Control your portions,

With a smaller plate.

A protein portion in your food,

Will help to fuel a cheery mood.

A nutritious breakfast is the way,

To lift your spirits for the day!

Drawings

A drawing of an orange titled "Le Orange."

“Le Orange”

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

...and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

…and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

And more…

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) - get it? So clever!

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) – get it? So clever!

Four women have smeared peanut butter under their eyes like war paint.

The Peanut Butter Warriors are ready for battle (yes, that’s peanut butter under their eyes)!

Thanks to all the teams who took part in Week 1! We can’t wait to see what you do for Week 2!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Project Assistant in Health Promotions. He started at Northern Health in October of 2013. Mike grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007, when he moved here to pursue a career in radio. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching sports, reading, and ice fishing. His favourite thing about the north is the slower pace of life and the fact that he no longer has to worry about traffic every morning.

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Grab-and-go breakfasts make mornings a breeze

Bircher museli in a jar

Have an apple on-hand and mix together some muesli ingredients for a great grab & go breakfast! Waiting until the last minute to get out of bed doesn’t have to mean skipping out on healthy fuel for your body!

For some people, mornings are their favourite time of day. They love to wake up early – maybe to leisurely enjoy their breakfast, coffee, and morning paper or perhaps to kick off their day with an energy-boosting workout. Fitting in a delicious and nutritious breakfast when you’re a morning person doesn’t seem too daunting. So what about the rest of us? If you are anything like me, you’ll time your alarm to the last possible minute you can get out of bed, make yourself presentable, and be out the door on the way to work. This doesn’t mean that I skip out on fuelling myself with something healthy, though – no one wants to meet that hangry, sleepy monster! In fact, I would consider myself a master of the grab & go breakfast!

Putting together nutritious and delicious grab & go breakfasts is easy! It just requires a little bit of planning so that you can hit that snooze button one extra time in the morning! Keep your kitchen stocked with easy-to-grab fruits like apples, oranges, or bananas. Hard boil some eggs on the weekend and they will keep in the fridge for a week. Bake some whole grain muffins and freeze them individually so they are ready to go. You can even chop up veggies for a quick breakfast wrap or pita the night before.

Raspberries, a travel mug, and a muffin on a cutting board.

A whole grain muffin (bake a batch once, freeze, and enjoy for weeks!), some fresh fruit, and a latte is a delicious grab & go breakfast option. What are your grab & go breakfast tricks?

Try some of these great grab & go breakfast ideas to get you out the door and on your way in a snap!

  • Grab a whole grain muffin, an apple or orange, and a latte in your favourite travel mug.
  • Try a classic peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread.
  • Layer Greek yogurt, fresh or frozen berries, and some homemade granola in a reusable container. Don’t forget to grab a spoon!
  • Slice a hardboiled egg, tomato, and lettuce (or any other favourite veggies) in a whole wheat pita.
  • Blend up frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk to make a smoothie. My favourite combination is frozen cherries, vanilla yogurt, milk, and cocoa powder. Yum!
  • Make a wrap with hummus, avocado, and cucumber in a whole wheat tortilla.
  • Get in your morning oats by prepping some overnight oatmeal or muesli the night before.
  • Not into “breakfast foods”? Then grab those dinner leftovers and head on out the door!

Do you have a favourite grab & go breakfast? Share it in the comments below!


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

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.

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Breakfast > snooze button

Oats in a bowl, yogurt, apple, and almonds

A little bit of prep work the night before can make a healthy, balanced breakfast a breeze, even on those rushed mornings! With a bit of chopping and mixing in the evening, bircher muesli (or overnight oats) are a great way to enjoy a balanced breakfast without any morning preparations other than grabbing a spoon!

Breakfast is one of my favourite things! On weekends, I enjoy getting up to put on some coffee and then trying out one of the many recipes I have yet to enjoy, like Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs.

Another favourite thing of mine? Sleep! So during the weekdays when I’d rather stay in bed a few more minutes, I have to push my dreams of homemade hollandaise out the window. But waking up to a rushed morning (how many times did I push snooze again?) does not mean I have to miss my favourite meal or settle for a bowl of cereal.

Here’s what I do to enjoy a healthy, balanced breakfast even if I’ve hit snooze once or twice:

  • Prepare or cook the night before. There are so many ideas for breakfasts that can be made the night before (many without a stove!) so that all you have to do in the morning is plate and enjoy. Some of my favourites are: hardboiled eggs, smoothies, baked oatmeal, bircher muesli and what I consider to be its modern cousin, overnight oats.
  • Prepare or cook more the night before. It’s important to me to pack a lunch each day. However, I know if I feel rushed in the morning, this won’t be happening. So I pack my lunch the night before. That way, all I have to do in the morning is throw it in my lunch box on the way out the door! Be sure to check the Northern Health Matters blog next week for lunch tips as part of Nutrition Month!

    Bircher muesli in a bowl beside lunch box.

    Lunch box packed and bircher muesli ready to be eaten, rushed mornings don’t have to mean missing breakfast or settling for unhealthy options!

  • Do anything you can the night before! I think my mom realized at a young age that I wasn’t a morning person and so she taught me some great skills to get to places on time. Thanks, Mom! During the evening, I’ll write a to-do list for the next day, pack all of the stuff that I can, and sometimes when I’m extra motivated, I’ll even sort out which clothes I’ll wear. This not only saves me time in the morning to enjoy my breakfast, but it eases my mind before I fall asleep.
  • Don’t hit snooze for the third time. I know, I know – probably not what you want to hear! But sometimes I find that my day is that much better if instead of sleeping, I just get up and get going. I use this extra time to just enjoy my cup of coffee and breakfast and breathe, instead of rushing around getting organized.

From experience, I think the most important thing when I’m trying to change my routine is to start small. It took time for me to accept that I may not be up at the crack of dawn. But since I’ve started to do what I can the night before, I can enjoy those few minutes in the morning dedicated to breakfast before my workday begins.


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

Chloë Curtis

About Chloë Curtis

Chloë is a health promotion intern doing a 3.5 month internship to complete her BSc in Health Promotion from Dalhousie University. Her areas of interest include food security, early childhood development, the social determinants of health, community development, and the impacts of resource development on health. Chloë grew up in Terrace and her love of the north has brought her home. She loves being active outside: skiing in the winter, hiking and running in the summer, and fly-fishing all year round!

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Think outside of the cereal box

Frittata in a skillet

Frittatas are a great make-ahead breakfast that can be eaten for any meal!

This blog post is one in a series of posts giving you the tools you need to complete the month-long Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page for your chance to win great weekly prizes and the grand prize of a Vitamix blender!


We’ve all heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you’re anything like me, you think that this is a cruel joke because you find mornings the most challenging time of the day! On these cold winter mornings in particular, I find it hard to leave myself enough time to make something substantial for breakfast. Thankfully, I’ve come up with a way to work around this!

What comes to mind when you think of “breakfast” foods?

If you’re an average Canadian, you’re probably thinking of one of the four most common breakfast foods:

  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Toast
  • Fruit
  • Hot cereal

Around 80% of breakfasts are thrown together in five minutes or less, so it isn’t surprising that the food items above are the most common as they take very little time to prepare. But let it be known: these items don’t have to be your default for a quick breakfast (unless you want them to be)!

The trick to having healthy, delicious breakfasts in a snap is preparing on your days off or the night before. I am a huge fan of versatile meals and will often cook something for supper that I can easily eat for breakfast or lunch. Cook once and eat 3, 4, or more times!

Here are some meals that you can make for supper that can easily be turned into breakfast

  • Frittatas: You can dress them up and take them to breakfast, lunch, or supper! Serve them with toast and you have breakfast. Serve them with quinoa and some greens and you have lunch or supper. This is my favorite versatile meal! It can be disguised into whatever you need it for. Try this easy recipe to get you started!
  • Baked beans: Throw these onto an English muffin or corn tortilla with salsa and avocado. Add an egg and you could have your own version of huevos rancheros!
  • Whole grain pancakes or french toast: Top with peanut butter and banana! These are traditionally breakfast foods but they can be made for supper and saved for breakfast! Make extras, freeze them, and pop them in the toaster!
  • Roasted potatoes and veggies: Toss on a soft or hardboiled egg or onto a small amount of cheese, throw it all into a container and hit the road. You’ve made yourself a breakfast skillet!
  • Burritos and enchiladas: Switch out the bean or meat filling for fried eggs, add some peppers, mushrooms, and a small amount of cheese, and there you have it: a breakfast burrito! Make it the night before, wrap it in tinfoil, and pack it with you.

If you make these meals in advance, it only takes about 2 minutes to heat up and enjoy!

Your challenge for this week: think about how you might turn some of your common suppers into breakfast the next day! If you’re looking for other ways to jazz up your breakfast (or just need a laugh) check out the video below about breakfasts from around the world!


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

Lindsay Kraitberg

About Lindsay Kraitberg

Lindsay is a registered dietitian working regionally with the CBORD (a food and nutrition database used in food services) team as well as in complex care. Originally from Vancouver Island, she grew up in the small town of Duncan then lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia for four years before relocating to the north. Lindsay thoroughly enjoys her position with Northern Health as she works with many different health care teams and learns something new every day. When Lindsay isn't at work, you can find her snowboarding in the winter and hiking, biking or camping in the warmer weather.

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Don’t be a sumo wrestler – eat breakfast!

French toast with maple syrup

Your body needs fuel to run properly! A balanced breakfast is key to having a productive day!

This blog post is one in a series of posts giving you the tools you need to complete the month-long Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page for your chance to win great weekly prizes and the grand prize of a Vitamix blender! 


Have you ever wondered how sumo wrestlers gain all that weight? They do something that isn’t common in that culture: they skip breakfast!

Yes, that’s right. Sumo wrestlers get up at 5:00 a.m. and train all morning without eating. This purposely keeps their metabolism running slowly. By the afternoon, they are ravenously hungry and then spend the remainder of the day eating and napping.

Sound familiar?

Some people think that skipping breakfast can help them eat fewer calories and lose weight but the opposite is usually true! People who skip breakfast often find their appetite returns with a vengeance later in the day and they overeat as a result. Eating breakfast is one of the best habits for a healthy lifestyle!

Did you know that almost 40% of Canadians skip breakfast?

That’s a lot of people missing out on some important benefits! Eating breakfast is linked to better intake of calcium, vitamin D, potassium and fibre! This is because foods typically eaten in the morning are usually high in these important nutrients.

How do you feel when you skip your morning meal?

Your body needs gas to run properly! By skipping breakfast, your body and brain will be running off of fumes. What does this look like at work? A foggy brain in your morning meeting, being irritable with your co-workers because you are “hangry”, making mistakes due to poor concentration, or even trying to stimulate your brain with multiple cups of coffee when it’s actually craving nourishment!

Stayed tuned to the Northern Health Matters blog for more great breakfast tips all week!

In the meantime, check out this two ingredient recipe for french toast!

Quick and easy french toast

Serves one

Did you know that traditionally, french toast is made with day old, slightly stale bread? The eggs and heat help fluff it back up and make it palatable again. This method also lends itself well to gluten-free bread which tends to taste stale or dry when it is not toasted or warmed.

Serve your french toast with some fresh, frozen or canned fruit and a glass of milk for a balanced and brain-boosting breakfast!

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread (gluten-free or regular)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Dash of vanilla (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Beat egg in a wide dish like a casserole dish or a pasta bowl. Add a dash of vanilla.
  2. Place slices of bread in the egg. Turn to coat until all the egg is absorbed.
  3. Heat a little oil or margarine in a pan over medium heat. Add bread and cook on each side until browned.

Serve with two teaspoons of maple syrup!


Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

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!

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