Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Give your comfort food a boost!

Plate of macaroni and cheese

Mac & cheese is easy to make from scratch and, with a few tweaks, you can amp up the nutrition and taste!

The snow has been falling and the days are getting shorter. Yes, winter has arrived in northern B.C.! These chilly evenings have me turning to soups, stews, and hearty comfort foods.

Comfort foods often get a bad rap when it comes to nutrition. We often think of comfort foods as being heavy, rich, and lacking in the vegetable department. But there isn’t any good reason they have to be this way. Most classic comfort foods can be easily modified to boost their nutrition and still be warm and satisfying enough for even the coldest winter night.

Mac & cheese is probably one of my favourite comfort food meals to make at home. Not only is it an easy dish to make from scratch, but with only a few little tweaks, you can amp up the nutrition and taste:

  • It’s easy enough to switch out regular macaroni for whole grain pasta to add some extra fibre to your meal.
  • Using an old or aged cheddar allows you to use less cheese while keeping that cheesy flavour.
  • And I always add some vegetables to my mac & cheese to make it a complete meal.

Some great vegetable choices include:

  • steamed cauliflower or broccoli
  • frozen peas or corn
  • sautéed mushrooms
  • puréed butternut squash
  • dark leafy greens, like spinach or kale

Here, I’ve used baby kale in my favourite mac & cheese recipe because it has a more mild flavour than regular kale and it requires less prep. If baby kale isn’t available, you can easily substitute chopped fresh, frozen, or canned kale instead.

Casserole dish with mac & cheese

Marianne’s recipe calls for kale, but cauliflower, broccoli, peas, corn, mushrooms, or squash are all great mac & cheese additions!

Oh Kale Yeah! Mac & Cheese

Recipe from Evergreen Eats

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole grain pasta (such as macaroni, rotini, or penne)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar (the older the better!)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of baby kale, packed
  • 1/2 cup herb and garlic croutons, crushed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cook pasta per package directions, until al dente.
  3. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stir and cook for 1 minute, without browning.
  4. Lower the heat, and gradually whisk in milk. Stir until bubbles form around the edges, and sauce thickens. Do not boil.
  5. Stir in cheddar cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm over low heat until pasta is cooked.
  6. Drain pasta, and add it to the cheese sauce, along with the baby kale. Stir until combined and kale has wilted slightly. Transfer to baking dish, and top with crushed croutons.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until top is crispy and golden brown.

Notes:

  • No croutons? No problem! You can use breadcrumbs, panko, or even crushed crackers or a few potato chips.
  • As the cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce are all salty, taste your sauce before adding any extra salt – you might find you don’t need it!
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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Coming together on the shores of Babine Lake

IMAGINE Community Grants provide funding to a variety of groups with projects that make northern communities healthier. Our hope is that these innovative projects inspire healthy community actions where you live! Check out the story below and read more IMAGINE Community Grant stories.

This story was originally published in Healthier You magazine.


Group of people in community hall

“Our luncheons became a huge social thing. Granisle has a population of 300 and we had upwards of 75 people attending our lunch events!”

Across Canada, research has shown that over 90% of older adults live independently in the community and wish to remain there. In smaller northern communities, however, supporting older residents to age in place can be a challenge.

With the help of IMAGINE Community Grants in 2014 and 2015, the Village of Granisle, a beautiful community of 300 people on the shores of Babine Lake, has responded to this challenge!

Granisle was named an Age-Friendly Community in 2014 and ever since, “for every project we do, our first thought is: how can this be inclusive and accessible,” said Lisa Rees, office assistant with the Village of Granisle. “Our IMAGINE-funded projects flow out of this designation.”

So, what did they do?

“We’ve got two projects under the same healthy living umbrella,” said Rees. “The first of those projects is a monthly healthy eating luncheon for seniors; the second, an exercise program for seniors.”

Don’t be fooled by the “for seniors” label, though, because these projects don’t turn anybody away! “Our luncheons became a huge social thing,” said Rees. “Granisle has a population of 300 and we had upwards of 75 people attending our lunch events!” The project promotes health not just through healthy eating, but also through social connections!

People walking on path

The community luncheons were about more than just healthy eating! Some events included walks, information sessions, and routine tests from nurses.

With an IMAGINE grant paying for the healthy food, the luncheons were designed with accessibility, learning, fun, and community in mind:

  • Attendees got a free, hot meal. Extra food was delivered to vulnerable local residents unable to leave their homes.
  • Different groups hosted the luncheons in different locations. The local Lions Club, local Council, Seniors Association, and local school all hosted luncheons. The event at the school was held together with an open house, showing that the school could be a community gathering space.
  • Before a summer park luncheon, attendees were invited to join a walk along a local trail and rubberized path.
  • Local health nurses joined the luncheons and offered participants health information and the chance to complete some routine health tests.
  • Along with their meals, attendees got to see nutrition tips from registered dietitians on their tables.

“It was more than just healthy eating,” said Rees. “People would sit and linger over coffee, we had local students helping with the cooking when the school hosted a luncheon, and programs like Better At Home did presentations.”

The second Granisle project tackles another important risk factor: sedentary behaviour.

“We want to help community members in Granisle to stay active,” said Emily Kaehn, economic development/administrative coordinator with the Village of Granisle. “With our new IMAGINE funds, we’re buying exercise gear – walking poles, ice grippers, snowshoes, yoga equipment, exercise bands, and more – to stock a local equipment library. Preventing injury and keeping older adults active is key to aging in place.”

Aerial photo of Granisle

“Come out to Granisle! It’s well worth a stop – it’s a beautiful place to visit and to be!”

Looking ahead, the Village of Granisle is looking for funding to continue the monthly luncheons and is hoping to expand the exercise gear program into broader recreation programming. “Partnerships are key,” said Kaehn. “The clinic and women’s group are involved in our exercise program and there are many clubs and groups involved in the luncheons. In a small community, it takes a lot of hands to get things to fruition and the village has really come together around health and aging.”

When probed for her last thoughts about the community and its healthy living projects, Lisa Rees encouraged everyone to check it out for themselves: “Come out to Granisle! It’s well worth a stop – it’s a beautiful place to visit and to be!”

Learn along with residents of Granisle! Here are just a couple of the healthy eating tips from their monthly community luncheons:

  • What small change can you make today? Consider water instead of pop to drink, or turkey instead of beef in your chili.
  • Develop your Sodium Sense. Flavour foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. An herb like thyme is tasty with chicken, veal, salads, and vegetables!

Three grant writing tips from Emily Kaehn (Village of Granisle):

  1. “The IMAGINE grant process was very straightforward. Program staff were very supportive. If you are thinking of applying and have an idea, call them first!”
  2. “Lots of municipalities have grant writers. They are a great resource. Start your application process there.”
  3. “Forward grant opportunities far and wide. Everyone has the community’s best interest at heart and sharing information ultimately helps everyone out.”
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.

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Foodie Friday: Lentils

Lentil health and nutrition infographic

Lentils, health, and nutrition

As the cold weather moves in, it’s so satisfying to warm up with a bowl of something hot. Chilies, soups, and stews are a staple for many families and can be a great source of nutrition if done right. By pairing the veggies of your choice with a source of protein and fibre, you can have a complete meal ready and on the table in no time at all!

In a past blog post, I spoke about my love for the Oh She Glows food blog. I recently made their Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup and was not disappointed!

This soup is a great example of a hearty, delicious, complete meal that contains no meat; in fact, it contains no animal products at all! Going “meatless” for one or two meals a week is a great way to challenge yourself and your family to explore new flavours and try new recipes. Reducing consumption of meat, red meat in particular, may also lower your risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers.

Lentils are one of my favourite meatless sources of protein. One serving (100g) of lentils contains the same amount of protein as one serving of steak (26g), but with only 1.5g of fat (the steak has 18g), 18g of fibre, and half of your daily recommendation of folate and iron! If you’re hooked on lentils after trying this Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup, head on over to lentils.ca for more recipes and lentil-related nutrition tips.

Red lentils

Lentils are a great meatless source of protein!

Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup

From: Oh She Glows

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (280 g) diced onion (1 medium/large)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 (15 oz/398 ml) can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 (15 oz/398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup (140 g) uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 1/2 cups (875 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste (for a kick of heat!)
  • 1 (5 oz/140 g) package baby spinach
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the onion softens.
  2. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, salt, and plenty of pepper. Add red pepper flakes or cayenne, if desired, to taste. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil.
  4. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 18 to 22 minutes, until the lentils are fluffy and tender.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lime juice to taste. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted bread and lime wedges.
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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Foodie Friday: Making vegetables the star of your supper

Roasted cauliflower with sauce and herbs on top

Cauliflower is covered in spices, roasted, and topped with sauce, cilantro, and pistachios in registered dietitian Erin’s recipe – making it the true star of dinner and a standalone vegetarian main dish, too!

Vegetables are often thought of last when planning a meal. Sometimes, they are dragged out of the depths of the freezer and cooked to death with no flavours added. With that approach, it’s no wonder many people don’t enjoy their vegetables! Well, I think it’s time to get creative and bring vegetables to the forefront at meal time!

Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables, among my other favourites in the Brassica family like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. For some, these can cause a bit of unwanted gas, but they have many health benefits to outweigh the cons like fibre to keep you regular and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to prevent against certain types of cancer. For more health info on the Brassica family, check out Marianne’s blog post on brussels sprouts.

When the temperature starts to drop, I crave warm meals with warm spices like cinnamon and chili. This recipe draws on the warm flavours of Morocco, with a vibrant kick from lemon and cilantro. It can be served as a side (like I usually do) with toned-down lemony fish or chicken, or can be featured as a vegetarian main dish. This recipe is adapted from one I recently saw in the fall edition of the Ricardo magazine.

How can you get creative and make vegetables the star of your supper this week?

Moroccan whole roasted cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, leaves removed. Keep the cauliflower whole.
  • 1 tbsp Moroccan spice blend (I buy this as a blend, but it usually has cumin, cinnamon, chili, ginger, coriander, and allspice if you want to make your own)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup hot water (may need more depending on how thick the tahini is)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup pistachios, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400C.
  2. In a large pot, steam the cauliflower until a knife inserts easily. When finished, place cauliflower on a parchment lined tray.
  3. Mix together the spice blend, olive oil, and salt. Pour evenly over cauliflower.
  4. Roast cauliflower until golden brown on top.
  5. While the cauliflower is roasting, mix together tahini, hot water, lemon juice and zest, and garlic. This should be a thick but pourable sauce. You may need to add more hot water if it is too thick.
  6. Drizzle tahini over cauliflower. Top with cilantro and pistachios.
  7. Cut into slices (like a cake) and serve!
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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Foodie Friday: A quick and tasty fall meal (spinach & white bean soup)

Soup

A quick and healthy fall meal that makes for great lunch leftovers, too! Add spinach and white bean soup to your menu this week!

Looking for a quick and tasty meal to whip up this fall? This spinach and white bean soup is a personal favourite of mine simply because it is quick to prepare and makes for easy lunches throughout the week. Also, it’s delicious!

Kidney beans are a healthy and cost effective way to add extra protein into your diet. Just remember to rinse off canned beans under water first to remove the excess salt. Add in all the extra veggies and you are left with a fibre- and protein-packed meal that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

This recipe calls for orzo, which is a small pasta similar in shape to rice. It can easily be substituted for any other small pasta (or quinoa) that you might have in your kitchen.

Spinach & white bean soup

Adapted from Damn Delicious

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach (or 1/2 cup frozen)
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can (15 oz) white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook until soft (approximately 5 minutes). Add in garlic and stir one minute longer.
  2. Add in chicken stock, tomatoes, and herbs (thyme, basil, and bay leaves). Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in orzo. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender (approximately 10 minutes).
  4. Stir in kidney beans and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Remove bay leaves before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Destyni Atchison

About Destyni Atchison

Destyni is a Clinical Dietitian at Fort St. John Hospital and Peace Villa. She has been working with Northern Health for the past two years and also runs her own nutrition consulting business. In her spare time, she enjoys snowshoeing, hiking and developing new recipes for herself and her clients.

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Foodie Friday: Thanksgiving thoughts

Turkey, vegetables, and potatoes on a plate.

What does your family’s Thanksgiving dinner look like?

With the hustle and bustle of September behind us, it’s October and Thanksgiving has come and gone. The long weekend really got me thinking!

I have always loved this holiday because it is a time when my family is all together and it is the first break since the busy-ness of summer and back to school.

I also love this holiday because it is all about the food. Depending on your traditions, there may be roasted turkey or ham (both, for some), veggies from the garden including brussels sprouts sautéed with butter and chili peppers, green bean casserole, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, my mother-in-law’s out of this world sweet potato dish, pumpkins and apples for pies, homemade breads, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy.

Handwritten recipe cards

Family recipes are a big part of holiday meals!

For many of my clients, this menu provokes feelings of deprivation or angst as many of these foods are “not allowed” on whatever diet they may be following – Paleo diet followers load their plates with turkey and a side of lard (oh, and if there is bacon, load up); Ketogenic followers head for the ham, the cheese platter, a tossed green salad, and skip the rest.

Diets like these cause people unnecessary anxiety when they are faced with prohibited foods – do they forget about their diet and eat these foods and feel guilty later? Or do they sit sadly with their list of “allowed” foods and feel deprived? And who wouldn’t feel deprived at the table with everyone else loving my mother-in-law’s sweet potato dish and, later, my mother’s homemade apple pie? No one, that’s who!

To these folks, I suggest approaching Thanksgiving dinner and other holidays as an opportunity to practice trusting their body’s own internal cues of hunger, appetite, and fullness and let these cues guide them when it comes to choosing what and how much to eat. Then, they will leave the meal feeling comfortable and nourished rather than guilty and deprived.

Here is the famous sweet potato dish!

Sweet potato casserole

Beth’s mother-in-law’s “out of this world sweet potato dish.”

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2 tbsp cream or milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 beaten egg

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup (approx.) pecan halves

Instructions

  1. Mix sweet potatoes, milk, melted butter, paprika, and beaten egg together and spread into greased baking dish.
  2. Make the topping by mixing butter and brown sugar in a pot over low heat until butter is just melted. Spread topping over sweet potato mixture and cover with pecan halves.
  3. Heat in oven at 350 F for 35 minutes.
Beth Evans

About Beth Evans

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

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Foodie Friday: Have you tried leeks?

Leeks on a cutting board

Have you tried leeks? They are a great addition to soups, casseroles, scrambled eggs, and more!

Two weeks ago, we marked the official arrival of fall! Yes, summer is over, but there is still a ton of delicious seasonal produce to be had. Some of my favourites are squash, pumpkins, carrots, apples, potatoes, and brussels sprouts.

One new food I’ve been experimenting with in my garden this year is the leek. Leeks grow really well in our rainy Terrace climate. Have you ever tried a leek? Leeks are the milder cousin of the onion and garlic and look like oversized green onions. They are found in most grocery stores but you can also grow them in your own backyard! The white and light green parts are typically what you use in recipes, but the dark green tops make a great stock.

Preparing & cleaning leeks

When I first got my leeks, I honestly had no idea how to prepare them! It turns out that leeks need to be cleaned properly, because dirt often gets trapped in between the layers. Here is a short and simple video on how to clean your leek. One trick is to rinse the leeks downward, which prevents dirt from washing back up into the leek.

Leeks are extremely nutritious, and, most importantly, they are super tasty!

Here are some ways to cook with leeks:

  • Include in your favourite stir-fry
  • Scrambled eggs with leeks
  • Add to any soup (leeks are a great addition!)
  • Add into mashed potatoes or potato salad
  • Add into casseroles or rice dishes
  • Stuff fish with leeks sautéed in butter or oil

Or, you can try this flavourful leek and potato soup to warm you up on those chilly fall days.

Soup in a bowl

A classic potato and leek soup is a great addition to your fall menu!

Classic Potato Leek Soup

Adapted from Dairy Goodness.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 3 large yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (I only had regular, so I just skipped adding any extra salt)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a pot, melt butter or oil over medium heat.
  2. Add leeks, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until leeks are tender.
  3. Add potatoes, broth, and 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently, covered, for 15 min or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, just until steaming (do not let boil).
  5. Stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

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

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Foodie Friday: Prince George carrots, B.C. apples, and the urge to bake this fall

Plate of muffins

Morning glory muffins can use local Prince George carrots and B.C. apples! What will you bake this fall?

Welcome to fall!

While the summer is full of excitement and adventure, I absolutely love this time of year here. It’s the Prince George I fell in love with! Almost exactly two years ago, I moved from Halifax. I was only supposed to be here for six months but, like many, I have fallen in love with the beauty of this area and all it has to offer. I love walking through the forests full of yellow leaves and the earthy smell of the moist ground. What’s your favourite part about this season?

Fall is the time of new beginnings for me and many others. After all of the summer adventures have subsided, fall is when the kids go back to school and everyone is back at work. For me, fall is the time to start new projects and endeavours as I usually tend to spend a bit more time indoors, until the snow flies!

The cooler temperatures provide a very welcome urge to bake, too! Luckily, there are plenty of local carrots and zucchini around from the summer harvest to incorporate into muffins, breads, and loaves to give a boost of vitamins and fibre to our homemade goodies.

Do you have some funky old apples sitting in your fridge? What about old bananas in your freezer? Throw these both into your baking for extra fiber, moisture, and sweetness.

Here is one of my favourite muffin recipes using local Prince George carrots and B.C. apples:

Morning glory muffins

Makes 12 large muffins (or 24 medium-sized muffins – adjust baking time as necessary)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup raisins (or chopped dates)
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 apple, skin on, shredded
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup very ripe bananas
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the carrot, raisins (or dates), nuts, coconut, and apple.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, banana, oil, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into the carrot/flour mixture, just until moistened. The batter will be thick!
  4. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes (12-15 minutes if making 24 medium muffins) or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Enjoy and share with someone you love, in a beautiful space.
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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Ditching the can opener: Tools, services, and tips to make healthy, homemade meals accessible

This article was co-authored by Rebecca Larson, registered dietitian, and Valerie Pagdin, occupational therapist.


Person cutting apple with one hand.

A rocker knife and cutting board with pins and suction cups makes cutting fruits and vegetables safe and accessible.

When you have a disability, making healthy meals at home can present additional challenges. Fatigue and difficulty with jars and utensils can create barriers to cooking. But there are ways to make cooking a bit easier so that everyone can enjoy healthy, homemade meals:

  • Buy frozen or pre-cut vegetables or fruit so that the preparation is already done.
  • Look for items that don’t require a can opener. Containers with screw tops (like some fruit and peanut butter) or those that are in pouches (yogurt or tuna) are easier to open.
  • Get your milk in a jug. Two litre plastic jugs with handles are easier to hold and pour than a milk carton.
  • Buy cheese and bread that are pre-sliced or have the deli or bakery slice them for you.

There are also many tools that can help you maintain your independence in shopping and cooking tasks. Using utensils with larger handles, cutting boards with suction cups to hold them to the countertop, or a mobility device to help you walk or carry items more easily can make a big difference in your ability to buy what you want and cook it the way you like it. An occupational therapist can assess your needs and help you find solutions that work for you in the kitchen. Ask your physician or primary care provider for a referral to an occupational therapist.

Accessible eating utensils.

Contact an occupational therapist to learn more about tools to make homemade meals more accessible – tools like weighted spoons, high-rimmed plates, and tremor spoons.

If transportation is a challenge, many grocery stores and service groups have grocery delivery options. Meals on Wheels is available in many communities and can provide meals if meal preparation is difficult or if you need a break. Food boxes, which contain fresh vegetables delivered on a regular basis, are available in some communities and may be an option to consider. Your local home and community care department can connect you to these programs.

If you need additional suggestions or help to make homemade meals more accessible, contact HealthLink BC Dietitian Services by dialling 8-1-1.


This article first appeared in Healthier You magazine. Find the original story and lots of other information about accessibility in the Fall 2016 issue:

 

Rebecca Larson

About Rebecca Larson

Rebecca works in Vanderhoof and the surrounding communities as a dietitian. She was born in the north and returned after her schooling. Rebecca loves tobogganing with her daughter in the winter, gardening and camping in the summer and working on her parents cattle ranch in her spare time.

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Foodie Friday: Berry Adventures

buckets of berries in a kayak.I am thankful to live on the beautiful traditional lands of the Tsimshian people. Recently, on a lovely morning when the water was calm and the sun was out, I departed for an adventure in my kayak. Because I went alone, I made sure someone knew where I was, picked a spot that wasn’t too remote, and brought safety supplies along. Part way along my journey, I stopped and picked two buckets of high bush cranberries. Although it was a bit of a juggling act to kayak back without spilling them, it was well worth the effort. I came home and looked through my wild plant books to make sure I had indeed picked cranberries, not some poisonous imposter. There are some excellent books available as well as reputable online sources, like this Edible Berries of BC guide. You can also seek guidance from an experienced picker or an Elder. When you aren’t sure, don’t eat it.

I embarked on the quest of deciding what to do with my berries. While I am quite familiar with making jam, I haven’t made jelly before. Since these cranberries have a significant seed in the centre, I decided to strain them out. I looked up how to do this and began navigating my way. It was trial and error as I was trying to blend the old and the new…recipes without pectin against those with pectin. So I’ll be honest with you, while I haven’t mastered the art of making wild cranberry jelly yet, here is what I learned. This is part of the adventure itself, to experiment and make something delicious! Next time I would just strain the berries and drink the juice!

Gathering berries has been an important activity, food and medicinal source for First Nations and Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years. Cranberries are known for their medicinal benefits, such as anti-bacterial properties that can help prevent urinary tract infections. They are also high in antioxidants that help boost the immune system and they are a source of vitamin C. For more information on traditional foods, access the First Nations Traditional Foods Fact Sheets from the First Nations Health Authority.

The activity of picking berries is good for my mind, body and spirit. Being out in nature is healing for me. When I am having a tough time for one reason or another, being in nature helps to restore me to balance. I also enjoy being self-reliant. Berry picking can also be a family activity. When my children were young it was a great way to get them out and active.

Remember to leave some berries for other people and animals to eat, and be careful not to damage the plants so there can be future harvests.

High Bush Cranberry Jelly

A bowl full of freshly picked berries.Ingredients

  • 2 small buckets of cranberries
  • 4 cups of water
  • 4 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ¼ boxes of Certo light

Instructions

  1. Boil cranberries with water for 10 minutes.
  2. Make a cheesecloth bag and place inside a strainer inside a bowl. I used elastic bands to hold my cheesecloth in place.
  3. Let the juice drip out overnight. I got about 7 cups of juice. If you have less pour some hot water through the berries to get more. I squeezed my bag, but if you want a clear liquid you aren’t supposed to!
  4. Sterilize the jars and metal lids. I put them in the oven at 225 degrees for 10 minutes.
  5. Put snap lids in water that is hot but not boiling.
  6. Mix Certo with a ¼ cup of sugar. Stir into juice. Bring to a boil. Add rest of sugar and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
  7. Test mixture for the right consistency by putting some on a spoon and letting cool in the fridge. If it firms and then falls off the spoon in one ‘flake’ it’s done, otherwise boil it longer.
  8. Pour into hot jars, wipe rims with a clean cloth dipped in the water the lids are in, put on snap lids and metal lids and tighten.
  9. If the lid pops down, it’s sealed.
  10. Enjoy with turkey on fried bread!
Victoria Carter

About Victoria Carter

Victoria works in Northern Health's Aboriginal health program as the lead for engagement and integration. She is an adopted member of the Nisga’a nation and was given the name “Nox Aama Goot” which means “mother of good heart.” In her work she sees herself as an ally working together with Aboriginal people across the north to improve access to quality health care. She keeps herself well by honouring the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of her life through spending time with her friends and family, being in nature and working on her own personal growth.

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