Healthy Living in the North

Eating smart at work

Platter of sandwiches

Meetings, conferences, and gatherings often include catered lunches, sweet beverages, and snack breaks. Follow the Eat Smart Meet Smart guidelines to make your next meeting a healthy one!

I read somewhere that the average full-time worker spends 2,000 or more hours at work each year. That’s almost 25% of our time!

And if you’re like many of us in this modern-day work environment, your day is filled with meetings and conferences and, most of the time, these events include helping after helping of pastries and cookies, buffet-style lunches, coffee, and sugar-sweetened beverages. These are normally OK as treats every once in a while, but eaten day after day, these foods take a toll on your health.

If you’re not prepared, your healthy eating goals can suffer – think “fail to plan, plan to fail” – because these types of meeting and catering foods replace the healthier ones you may have brought from home. And these foods drain your energy levels leaving you sluggish and less productive with your work. They may even sabotage your physical activity goals, to boot!

To avoid this, the next time you have a meeting or all-day conference, check out Eat Smart Meet Smart. This guide can help you plan and host healthy meetings and conferences in the workplace. It covers a range of gatherings and includes tips for short meetings and menus for all-day events.

You can be the boss of your nutrition with this guide! Work with your favorite caterer to find options that are prepared with less salt, fat and sugar, and that will keep you focused, energized and healthy.

Yogurt parfait in a jar.

Swap the pastries, donuts, and sweets at your next morning meeting for DIY yogurt parfaits with fruit, granola, and nuts!

Here are some ideas to get you started on healthy eating at your next meeting or conference:

  • Ask for pitchers of water on each table to keep everyone hydrated and focused.
  • Order lighter lunches that include salads alongside whole grain sandwiches or wraps that are filled with vegetables and lean protein such as chicken, eggs, legumes or cheese.
  • Offer fruit rather than traditional sweets for dessert.
  • Consider taking an activity break rather than serving food. Sometimes people eat just because the food is offered rather than because they are hungry and this can lead to overeating.

My favorite snack for morning meetings is fruit and yogurt parfaits where there is a selection of low-fat yogurt, an assortment of sliced fruit, chopped almonds or other unsalted nuts, and some low-fat granola. For a great granola recipe check out dietitian Carly Phinney’s recent Foodie Friday Blog.

Do you have any tips for an Eat Smart Meet Smart meeting or conference?


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!

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.

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Rethink your drink: Choosing healthy beverages

Cutting board with sliced cucumber, cut strawberries, and a glass of water.

The gold standard for hydration is water! If the crisp, clean taste of water just isn’t to your liking, try adding a few fruit or vegetable slices to your glass or water bottle!

Does this scenario sound familiar? You return home after a long day at work, you have a headache, and your mouth feels like the Sahara. It’s only then that you realize that you haven’t had a drop to drink all day!

You’ve probably heard that the human body has a lot of water – and you’d be right! On average, water makes up about 60% of your body weight. This means that the average man contains roughly 42 litres of water! During our busy workday, we are constantly losing water to the environment (think sweat, breath, and pee). Since so many body functions rely on water, it’s very important to replace water lost during daily activities.

Keeping hydrated during your busy workday will help you to feel on top of your game. Listen to your body’s cues. You may need a drink when you feel:

  • a headache,
  • hungry despite having just eaten (sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger),
  • dry, cracked lips, or
  • thirsty!

But what should you choose to drink? There are many beverage options these days and some drinks are better than others for keeping hydrated.

The gold standard for hydration? Water!

Since we’re largely made of water, doesn’t it make sense to drink it? Bring a reusable water bottle to work and keep it filled. If you just can’t get into the taste of plain water, try adding a wedge of lemon or lime. Get even more creative by adding a combo of sliced cucumbers and strawberries to flavour your water!

Other good hydrating choices:

Milk

Milk has nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamin D.

Tea and coffee

Contrary to popular myth, tea and coffee are not dehydrating. If you enjoy caffeinated coffee or tea, limit yourself to four 250 ml cups per day or choose decaf coffee and herbal teas instead. Remember that most medium-sized coffees are actually closer to two cups! Also, if you tend to add cream and/or sugar to your coffee or tea, keep in mind the extra calories you are drinking.

Drinks to rethink (choose less often):

Juice

While most juices are marketed as healthy because they have some vitamins and minerals, they also contain a lot of sugar! You’re better off eating your fruits whole and skipping the juice.

Fancy coffee

Think ooey-gooey caramel macchiatos, syrupy-sweet french vanillas, and everything in between! These coffee drinks have so much added sugar and fat that they could pass for dessert in a mug! Consider them to be desserts and save them for occasional treats instead.

Pop

Pop or soda is completely devoid of nutrients and full of added sugar (and often caffeine, too). Remember that viral video of cola dissolving a penny? That’s because pop has added acid and just like the penny, acid in pop will also damage your teeth! Diet pop may be missing the sugars, but will still damage your teeth, so give it a pass as well.

Vitamin water

These types of drinks are marketed as “healthy” by using the word water in their names, but they often contain more sugar than you’d think and may have vitamins in excess of safe limits.

Energy drinks

These beverages may claim to give you a boost, but they usually contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar. Some energy drinks may also contain unsafe and untested additives. You may feel a short-term gain in energy, but later on, you’re almost sure to crash.

When it comes to staying hydrated at work remember: Follow your thirst! H2O is the way to go!


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!

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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Defend against vending machine temptation

Vending machine

This vending machine is double trouble with salty and sugary treats as well as sugar-filled beverages. Do you have a machine like this in your workplace? Use the Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings guide to become a vending machine crusader!

Vending machines – they can be pretty tempting things. With their bright colours, blinking lights, and palatable treats, they can be hard to resist even if you aren’t feeling hunger pangs. Just think of the small child at the local hockey arena, begging their mom or dad for a chocolate bar or bag of chips after skating lessons. Clearly, just the sight of salty and sweet treats can be enough to make us want to part with whatever change is in our pockets! And they show up in the most random places! I was at my vet’s office just the other day and they had a vending machine in the corner! No wonder it can be hard to make healthy choices when vending machine temptation is so often staring you in the face.

In a perfect world, we would always have a healthy snack stashed away in our desk or bag to tide us over until our next meal so we wouldn’t have to turn to the vending machine. But our lives aren’t perfect and sometimes we find ourselves without any other options but what is available to purchase. In those situations, how can we navigate the world of vending machines to make healthier choices?

It can be hard to know exactly what you are getting when you put those coins into a vending machine. Unlike at the store, you can’t pick up the package and read the nutrition label. You can only compare products based on the front of the package and what you might already know about that snack or beverage. If you’re lucky, you might have access to machines that stock fresh options like fruit, vegetables, yogurt, or tuna and cracker snack packs. But if you’re faced with a more traditional machine, look for the least processed items like packages of peanuts, trail mix, dried fruit, or granola bars made with these ingredients.

And did you know that B.C. has established guidelines for healthier choices in vending machines that are in buildings owned, leased, or occupied by provincial public bodies? This means that in these places you will find items lower in sugar, salt, and fat, and higher in essential nutrients. Take a peek through the glass at the offerings in your workplace’s vending machines and see if they meet the guidelines. If not, why not see if you can get them implemented? You could become the office vending machine crusader!

For more tips on defending against vending machine temptation, check out this short video from Dietitians of Canada – and remember to keep checking back on the Northern Health Matters blog for more great posts to help you make healthy choices all Nutrition Month long!


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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Snacking smart

Strawberries and trail mix.

Aim for one to two food groups in each healthy snack! Unlike a treat (best saved for occasional enjoyment), a snack should provide nourishment and energy to fuel your brain and workday activities!

So, what makes a healthy snack? What is a snack anyway? Did you know that there’s a big difference between a snack and a treat? Treats like sugar-laden cookies, granola bars, chocolate, or salty chips and cheezies are low in nutrients and best saved for occasional enjoyment. Smart snacking, on the other hand, involves planning for the day and keeping healthy choices on hand. Here are some of my smart snacking suggestions!

When I’m hungry two or three hours after breakfast, I grab my homemade pumpkin muffin and yogurt for coffee breaks. When I approach the midday slump and want a coffee or a nap, I unpeel my orange and sip on rooibos tea in the cafeteria or walk down the hall to clear my brain and get refreshed until dinner time.

A snack can be as little or as big as you want, but a healthy snack is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients, fluids and fibre to help us meet our daily quotient. A sustaining snack will provide carbohydrates to fuel your brain and activity level and some protein for longer-lasting energy and blood sugar stabilization. To do this, try to include one to two food groups in your snack.

I suggest picking one carbohydrate food (grain, fruit, or milk) and one protein choice (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, nuts, or legumes) to make a nutritious snack. For times when you just need a little pick me up, then either a small fruit or yogurt will do until your next meal. I also recommend keeping healthy snacks in your vehicle for when you spend a busy day in town or go on a long drive to visit family or friends and start craving sugar. I always keep a container of trail mix and a box of sesame seed snaps in my car because they don’t freeze in the winter or melt in the summer. Keep water bottles and 100% juice boxes in the trunk for emergency fluid needs!

Roasted chickpeas and raspberries

Smart snacking is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients! Try some crunchy roasted chickpeas and a handful of fruit next time you feel that midday slump coming on!

Looking for more snack inspiration? Why not try one of Dietitians of Canada top 10 smart snacks!

  • Whole grain crackers with hardboiled egg
  • Handful of grapes and cheese
  • Veggie sticks with hummus
  • Apple slices and a chunk of cheese
  • Fresh fruit and yogurt
  • 2-4 tbsp nuts with dried apricots
  • Snap peas and black bean dip
  • Banana smeared with natural peanut butter
  • Crunchy roasted lentils or beans and green tea
  • Whole grain muffin and cottage cheese

What’s your favourite snack?


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!

Melanie Chapple

About Melanie Chapple

Melanie works as a clinical dietitian in the Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa Facility. After completing her dietetic internship in Vancouver, she fulfilled her desire to move up north in 2006 because of the rich opportunity to gain experience working in all practice settings as a full-time dietitian. Melanie has a passion for food and nutrition, specifically baking, eating healthy snacks and sharing recipes with her clients and coworkers. In her spare time, you may see Melanie cycling through the Peace region, walking, or pulling her kids on a sled during the six months of snow.

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Foodie Friday: Avoiding lunch hour diet derailment

Sweet potato with tuna salad and greek yogurt.

Looking for a healthy lunch idea for the workplace? Bake a sweet potato and top with tuna salad for a delicious dinner and lunch the next day! Cook once and enjoy twice!

It’s been two and a half months since you promised yourself a healthier 2015, but have you managed to stick to your goals? One of the most common points of diet derailment (and remember that Northern Health defines “diet” as your eating habits and not as a weight loss regimen, which is a different usage of the term!) is lunch hour at the office. Potlucks, cafeteria offerings, and nearby fast-food temptations are luring you far away from your sandwich and even further away from your goal of having a healthy workweek. Here are some tips to help keep you on track:

  1. Plan ahead: Making a weekly grocery list is key to staying on track with healthy eating! Whether you’ve planned out specific lunches or not, make sure you pick up some lunch-friendly foods so when you’re in a crunch the night before work, you have some ingredients on hand. For example, if you like sandwiches, make sure you’re stocked up on whole grain bread and your favourite fillings for the week. Another tip, never leave making your lunch to the morning.
  2. Make it convenient: Batch cooking on the weekend is probably one of the most convenient ways to make sure you have healthy lunches for the week. It’s also a great way to try out a new recipe. Prepare a recipe that serves 4-6 people and portion it into Tupperware containers. If you’re like me and don’t mind eating leftovers, you’ll have lunch for the week. If you like a bit more variety, save a couple portions for the week and put the rest in the freezer. Another convenient strategy is to always make an extra portion of supper for lunch the next day. Just make sure you plan ahead and work these extra portions into your grocery list!
  3. Choose a lunch you like: Sounds obvious, right? Don’t get stuck in the PB&J grind! If you make yourself a boring lunch, of course you’ll be tempted by less healthy options. Make yourself a lunch you’ll look forward to. One of my favourite lunches is Sweet Potato with Tuna Salad (recipe below). I usually make it the night before and eat one portion for supper and pack the other portion for the next day. Hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato with Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato (enough for two servings)
  • 1 can of skipjack tuna in water
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 heaping tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 lime wedges
  • Handful fresh cilantro or parsley

Instructions:

  1. Pierce skin of sweet potato all over. Bake sweet potato at 350 F for 45 minutes or until soft in the middle when pierced with a fork. Baking time will depend on the size of the potato. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, drain tuna and mix with mayonnaise and curry powder in a small bowl.
  3. Cut cooked sweet potato in half lengthwise. Mash the flesh with a fork to form a little dip in which to sit the tuna.
  4. Divide the tuna between the two sweet potato halves.
  5. Place a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of each half. Season with cracked pepper and a squeeze of lime. Sprinkle cilantro or parsley on top.
  6. Enjoy!
Sarah Anstey

About Sarah Anstey

Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sarah moved to Prince George in 2013 to pursue her career as a Registered Dietitian. Since then, she has enjoyed developing her skills as a Clinical Dietitian with Northern Health, doing her part to help the people of northern B.C. live healthy and happy lives. Sarah looks at her move to Prince George as an opportunity to travel and explore a part of Canada that is new to her, taking in all that B.C. has to offer.

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Localize your lunch

Frozen berries, preserved produce, deer chops, and squash on a counter.

Adding local food like deer chops, squash, berries, or beets depends on where you live and a few other factors but there are some preservation tips and seasonal produce that can keep you lunching local all year round!

There’s something neat about eating local food. Somehow food that you have grown, fished, hunted, gathered, or gotten from someone you know is just … better.

But why does it seem better? Pop quiz!

  1. Do you feel a sense of pride and self-reliance in growing, getting or “putting up” your own food?
  2. Do you feel local food is somehow more real, more nourishing, and more satisfying?
  3. Do you value food travelling fewer “food miles”?
  4. Are you pumped about supporting your local producers and community members?
  5. Do you appreciate knowing where your food comes from?
  6. Do you enjoy the social aspects of local food and the learning that is shared?
  7. All of the above.

For me, it’s “all of the above,” but if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, that sounds like a good enough reason to include some local yumminess in your lunches!

How can we pack local foods into our lunch bags? What we have available to us depends on many variables: where we live, our personal connections, our food storage equipment, and our skills and knowledge.

Here are a few ideas from my own kitchen in Terrace:

  • My favourite lunch is simply leftovers from dinner (I mean, if I’m going to cook a great meal, I better get a couple meals out of it, right?). At this time of year, we are working through the last of our local food supplies so dinner, and therefore lunch, might include Haida Gwaii deer, Remo Harvest potatoes (maybe garlic mashed potatoes?), and home canned beets (topped with no-so-local feta cheese and olive oil).
  • There are still a couple of squashes on my counter, and while their fate is not yet sealed, I suspect they will make an appearance in a future lunch in the form of a creamy squash soup or spiced squash muffins.
  • The cherries and berries in my freezer might be reincarnated into a fruit crisp that would make a nice mid-morning snack at work.
  • There’s still a wee bit of jarred salmon that might be nice to have on crackers – an easy snack or lunch to pack when I’m hastily scrambling to work.

Oh, dear! All this writing about food is making me hungry! Better go take a peek at what I’ve got in my lunch today! I hope there’s something local in there!

For more ideas and inspiration, consider checking out the following resources:


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!

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.

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Simple and tasty lunches for your workday

A balanced lunch of a salad, a small container of nuts, and two oranges.

Look outside of plastic wrap and disposable sandwich bags! Keep a variety of glass or plastic containers on-hand to fit larger meals like salads, sandwiches and entrees as well as medium-sized items like fruit and cut-up vegetables and smaller items like nuts, dips, and salad dressings. Mason jars and recycled jam or pickle jars are also perfect for storing salads or beverages.

Do you find packing a lunch challenging? Time-consuming? Turns out you aren’t alone!

According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey conducted for Dietitians of Canada, 45% of Canadians feel that eating healthy meals and snacks at work is challenging. The Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research found that only 37% of Canadians say they prepare lunch at home and over one third (36%) of Canadians skip lunch altogether.

Lunch is an important meal in your workday that shouldn’t be missed! As part of a balanced diet, a healthy lunch helps give your body and mind important nutrition to keep you awake and productive for the rest of your day.

What to put in your lunch bag: simple strategies

Keep variety in mind when you are planning your lunch. Choose foods low in salt, sugar and fat from 3 out of 4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide: meat and alternatives, milk and alternatives, grain products, and vegetables or fruit (being sure to strive for at least 1-2 servings of vegetables or fruit). Here are a few ideas to help you build your lunch:

Meat and alternatives: Choose 1 option

  • 2-3 oz lean meat like chicken breast, turkey, pork or extra lean ground beef, fish like tuna, salmon, or tilapia, or seafood.
  • Meat alternatives like 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons nut butter, ¼ cup nuts or seeds, or ¾ cup beans, lentils or tofu.

Milk and alternatives: Choose 1 option

  • Dairy products like 1 cup milk, ¾ cup yogurt, or 1.5 oz hard cheese.
  • Milk alternatives like 1 cup fortified soy milk or non-dairy yogurt or cheese.

Grain products: Choose 2 whole grain options

  • 1 slice whole grain bread, 1 small bun, ½ tortilla, naan or pita, ½ bagel, 1 small homemade muffin, 4-6 crackers, or ½ cup pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, farro, or spelt.

Vegetables and fruit: Choose 1-2 colourful vegetables and fruit, aiming to eat a rainbow!

  • 1 cup raw leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, kale or bok choy, ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables like cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, squash, beets, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes or yams on their own or in soups, stews, or stir-fry.
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen, or unsweetened canned fruits like grapes, melon, oranges, apples, bananas, kiwi, or berries, or ¼ cup dried fruit like apricots, raisins, or apples.
  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice, but choosing the whole fruit and vegetable options above more often.

Putting it together: Mix & match for simple and tasty lunch ideas

  1. Dinner leftovers are a quick go-to that don’t require extra prep.
  2. Pack hard-boiled eggs, cheese, fresh vegetables, a few olives and whole grain crackers for a snack-like lunch.
  3. Layer black bean dip, sliced chicken, avocado and arugula on a whole grain baguette for a simple sandwich with big flavour.
  4. Toss light tuna, snow peas and grape tomatoes with leftover whole grain pasta, basil pesto and a pinch of chili flakes – this dish is great cold or heated.
  5. Mix lentils, roasted red peppers, sweet potato, quinoa and a drizzle of lemony dressing for a delicious salad bowl.

Looking for more tasty lunch ideas? Check out this Foodie Friday post about freezer-friendly meals for food preparation tips that fit with your busy schedule!


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!

Erin Branco

About Erin Branco

Erin is a future dietitian and is currently completing her 10 month UBC Dietetics internship with Northern Health. 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 internship, she has 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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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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Living with a dietitian

Young woman eating a dish in a restaurant.

Dietitians are a great resource to make sure that you are getting everything that you need to make your body function the way it should! Ashley was lucky enough to live with a dietitian for a while and shares her experience!

One of the best things that has ever happened to me and something that I highly recommend to anyone for whom it is possible is to live with a dietitian. I had a roommate who was a dietitian intern for Northern Health last year and it was seriously life-changing. She got my butt into gear by making me think about almost everything that I put into my body by simply asking me to consider what that food is giving me. Is it protein? Vitamins? Calcium? More often than not, my answer was: I have no idea, but it tastes really good. That’s totally fine – healthy eating should be enjoyable and balanced – but she was able to show me new recipes that tasted amazing while giving my body everything that it needed to function properly. As an added bonus, I had more energy and healthy, shiny hair! Sign me up!

For example, did you know that you can make brownies from black beans? Oooey, gooey brownies! Or that you can make ice cream from frozen bananas, peanut butter, cocoa, and cashews? I also learned that you can use ground white beans to make creamy soups instead of adding extra fat (like cream)!

Luckily for you, Northern Health has Foodie Friday blog posts and will be featuring tons of healthy eating information during the Eating 9 to 5 challenge so you may not need to rent out that spare bedroom just yet! Getting tips and recipes like these on a regular basis through blogs and Facebook helps to keep you thinking about nutrition and healthy eating while also keeping your daily meals fresh and exciting. Tune in to the Northern Health Matters blog throughout the month of March as well as every other Friday for Foodie Friday and start eating more delicious, healthy food tonight!

Ashley Ellerbeck

About Ashley Ellerbeck

Ashley has been a recruiter for Northern Health since 2011 and absolutely loves her job and living in northern B.C. Ashley was born and raised in Salmon Arm and then obtained her undergraduate degree at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops before completing her master's degree at UNBC. When not travelling across Canada recruiting health care professionals, Ashley enjoys being outside, yoga, cooking, real estate, her amazing friends, and travelling the globe.

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