Healthy Living in the North

Nutritious and delicious Easter traditions

Child picking up coloured eggs.

Include non-food items in your Easter baskets and egg hunts to add variety this year! Items like stickers, colouring books, or stuffed animals can make great gifts, or include items that will get you and your family physically active like skipping ropes, hula hoops, or passes to the local pool or skating rink.

As a registered dietitian, I get asked questions on a daily basis about food and nutrition. Easter – filled with celebrations, Easter egg hunts, family, and friends – is often a time of sharing traditions, which often involves food. Holiday meals have great potential to be both nutritious and delicious!

A meal of ham or turkey, vegetables, buns or stuffing, and dessert has a good chance of having 3-4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide, making it a nutritionally balanced meal.

There many ways to make your Easter meal even more nutritious, such as:

  • offering sweet potatoes or yams, as well as potatoes;
  • including colourful veggies, like carrots, brussel sprouts, and beets;
  • serving up something green like asparagus or a simple green leafy salad;
  • choosing whole wheat bread for your stuffing, and adding cranberries or chopped apples, walnuts, and finely chopped carrots and celery; and
  • considering a dessert that includes fruit and/or dairy, such as a fruit crumble or a milk-based pudding.

Adults may worry about how much they eat at these celebrations. Healthy eating is not just about one meal or one day. Rather, it’s about your overall approach to eating. On the day of the celebrations, it can be helpful to continue with your regular meal and snack pattern, so that you can listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Buffet style meals can often leave you feeling overfull from wanting to try a little bit of everything. Instead, survey your options, and choose those things you really want to try. You can always come back for more if you are still hungry. Take your time during holiday meals – eat slowly, and enjoy the time with family and friends. Remember that the holidays are about the whole experience – enjoy the meal, the company, and the memories made.

What about the treats and chocolate?

Easter egg hunts for the kids often involve searching for chocolate and candy treats. And while treats are definitely a part of traditions and a healthy approach to eating, sometimes it can be easy for everyone to overindulge in those treats. Include non-food items in your Easter baskets and egg hunts to add variety – they are just as fun as the chocolates and candy. Things like stickers, colouring books, or stuffed animals can make great gifts, or include items that will get you and your family physically active like skipping ropes, hula hoops, or passes to the local pool or skating rink.

What are your nutritious, delicious, and healthy Easter traditions? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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.

Share

Healthy holiday eating

Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet.

Make your holiday meal even more nutritious this year! Include lots of colourful veggies like Brussels sprouts, carrots, and beets!

Christmas is an exciting time, often filled with celebrations, parties, family, and friends. It’s also a time to share traditions, which often involve food. Holiday meals offer the opportunity for family members and friends to prepare and share a special meal together, and to learn from each other in the process. Even young children can help by doing things like washing vegetables, making paper place mats, setting the table, pouring water, and helping to clean up.

Looking at most holiday movies or commercials these days, we are made to think of holiday meals as always being rich and heavy. Think again! They actually have great potential to be nutritious and delicious! A meal of ham or turkey, vegetables, buns or stuffing, and dessert has a good chance of having 3-4 food groups from Canada’s Food Guide, making it a balanced meal.

Here are a few suggestions to make your holiday meal even more nutritious:

  • Offer sweet potatoes instead of, or alongside, white potatoes.
  • Include other colourful veggies like carrots, Brussels sprouts, and beets.
  • Boost up the stuffing by using whole wheat bread and adding cranberries or chopped apple, walnuts, and finely chopped carrots and celery.
  • Consider a dessert that includes fruit or dairy, such as a fruit crumble or milk-based pudding.

Some people worry about how much they eat at these special meals. Remember, healthy eating is not just about one meal or one day – it’s about your overall approach to eating. Give yourself permission to eat foods that you enjoy!

On the day of the holiday celebration, it can be helpful to continue with your regular meal and snack patterns that incorporate healthy choices so that you can listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Buffet-style meals can often leave you feeling overfull from wanting to try a little bit of everything. Instead, survey your options and choose those things you really want to try. You can always come back for more if you are still hungry.

Remember to take your time during holiday meals – eat slowly and enjoy the time with family and friends. The holidays are about the whole experience – building a snowman, admiring light displays with your family, playing a favourite board game – not just what’s on your plate!

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.

Share

Making Christmas food hampers healthier: You can make a difference!

Cans of non-perishable food items

Are you donating food to an organization in your community this season? Choosing healthier food options is very important for households living with food insecurity as they have a greater risk of poorer health and increased chronic conditions.

December is a month we look forward to for all the wonderful holiday celebrations, sharing with our families and friends, and for giving. Sadly, not all families are financially stable enough to have the basic necessities they need, such as food. In communities across northern B.C., hard-working organizations are gearing up for food drives. This year, I want to challenge you to make an even bigger difference in the lives of families across our region by donating healthier foods to these initiatives.

If you, your family or an organization you belong to are donating to food banks this year, I encourage you to focus your donations on healthier foods for families. Food banks really need healthier food donations so they can make healthier Christmas food hampers for the groups they serve.

What do I suggest? Use Canada’s Food Guide! Here’s the shopping list I came up with:

  • Non-perishable and nutritious food suggestions for meat and alternatives (which provide essential protein, vitamins, and minerals) include: canned salmon, tuna, sardines, chicken, beef chillies, ham, corned beef, a variety of beans (brown beans in tomato sauce, kidney, garbanzo, mixed beans), and peanut butter.
  • Non-perishable and nutritious food suggestions for vegetables and fruit (which provide essential vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates as well as fiber) include: canned tomatoes, mixed veggies, peas, green or yellow beans, corn, beets, and fruit such as peaches, pears, mixed fruits (with no added syrup or pear juice) and apple sauce.

Highly processed foods are often high in fat, salt, and sugar so choose the more nutritious items if you can.

Why are healthier food donations so important?

Choosing healthier food options is very important for households living with food insecurity as they have a greater risk of poorer health and increased chronic conditions. This concept – food insecurity – is an important one to think about this holiday season.

For many of us, financial stability is something we enjoy and may even take for granted. This is not the case for many families and they can become food insecure. Food insecurity exists:

Whenever the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways is limited or uncertain.” (Hamelin, A., et. al., 2002)

This is the case for 1 in 8 households in Canada. This rate is even higher in homes that receive their income from minimum wages, part-time jobs, workers compensation, employment insurance or social assistance; are First Nation, Métis or Inuit; have children (especially with a lone mother); are homeless; are new immigrants; or have chronic health problems. Food insecurity is caused by financial constraints when income is too low or unsteady and there is not enough money left over to pay for enough healthy food after paying for necessities such as housing, utilities, transportation, and health expenses.

Look up your local food bank to find out where and when to drop off your healthy food donations for this season of giving. The Prince George Citizen recently profiled four local Christmas Food Hamper programs in Prince George.

Loraina Stephen

About Loraina Stephen

Loraina is a population health dietitian working in a regional lead role for external food policy, which supports initiatives to develop healthy eating, community food security and food policy for the north. Loraina was born and raised in the north, and has a busy lifestyle. Having grown up enjoying food grown from family gardens, hunting, and gathering, and enjoying northern outdoor activities, she draws on those experiences to keep traditions strong for her family, in her work and at play.

Share

Foodie Friday: What’s your New Year’s resolution?

Carrot cake baked oatmeal in a casserole dish.

Try some healthy changes this year: Eat breakfast everyday, drink water, cook healthy meals, and add fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks. Drink a glass of water along with Amy’s carrot cake oatmeal recipe and you’ve hit all four objectives at once!

Have you made a New Year’s resolution this year? Above all the typical ones like saving money, spending more time with your family, and quitting smoking, the resolution that consistently tops the list seems to be losing weight.

In terms of setting a goal, dietitians encourage people to focus on healthy behaviours instead of just on weight loss, ensuring that a person is as healthy as possible at any size. Consider the big difference between these two plans:

  • A supplement-based or one-food diet program (e.g., Slim Fast, Herbal Magic, or the cabbage soup diet) that may provide short term weight loss results but will end with weight gain once you stop the program. This kind of weight cycling has negative outcomes for your physical or mental health.
  • A lifestyle behaviour based approach which encourages healthy habits that improve many aspects of your life aside from the shape of your body. Starting a special program isn’t necessary but focusing on long-term changes to your habits is. By eating a variety of nutritious foods, drinking water, exercising, and adopting other healthy behaviours your body may respond with a huge number of benefits including increased energy, improved mood, lower blood cholesterol levels, and improved sleep!

Consider some of these tips for healthy changes in 2015:

  1. Eat breakfast everyday! Did you know that sumo wrestlers consciously skip breakfast in order to gain weight? Eating in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism, puts gas in your tank to fuel your day, and keeps you from being ravenous at the end of the day.
  2. Drink 2-3 litres of water per day! Water flushes your body of toxins, keeps your brain functioning well, hydrates and revitalizes your skin, and keeps your gut working optimally. Your urine should look pale yellow.
  3. Add more vegetables and fruit to meals and snacks! Add fruit to your oatmeal, sneak veggies into your sandwiches, soups, stews, and casseroles, keep frozen berries and bananas on hand for easy smoothies, and stock your freezer with frozen vegetables for a quick dinner solution.
  4. Cook healthy meals for your family! Anything you make in your kitchen will be more nutritious than the store-bought version! Make cooking a priority for your family.

Looking for a family-friendly recipe that gets everyone running to the breakfast table and sneaks some vegetables into an unlikely place? Look no further!

Carrot cake oatmeal can be made for a nice brunch or weekend breakfast, heated up for a quick breakfast during the week, packed along as snack, or even eaten as a dessert!

This recipe includes an ingredient from every food group: whole grain oats, carrots and raisins, milk or a milk substitute, and seeds and nuts!

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

This recipe is based off of a recipe from the website Oh She Glows.

Feeds six hungry people

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups quick cooking rolled oats (use gluten-free if necessary)
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups lightly packed shredded carrots
  • 2 ½ cups unsweetened milk (or milk alternative of your choice)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, melted honey, or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp freshly grated ginger (or ½ tsp ground ginger)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds or walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 10-cup casserole dish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flaxseed or chia seeds, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the carrots, milk, sweetener, vanilla, and ginger.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined. If you are using regular rolled oats instead of the quick cooking variety, I would recommend that you let it soak for 30-60 minutes or overnight. That way it will be nice and soft!
  5. Pour mixture into prepared dish and smooth out with a spoon. Press down on the oatmeal with a spoon (or your hands) so the oats sink into the milk. Sprinkle on the raisins and sunflower seeds or walnuts and press down lightly again.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 32-37 minutes or until lightly golden along edge. The oatmeal will still look a bit soft or wet in some spots when it comes out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.
  7. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup or some dairy or non-dairy yogurt. When the baked oatmeal is fully cool, it will firm up enough to be sliced into squares.

Enjoy it warm, at room temperature, or chilled straight from the fridge!

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!

Share