Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Spring cleaning your diet

Tray of salad rolls

Spring is the perfect time to get re-inspired around healthy eating! This season, try playing up veggies in new ways like salad rolls!

Is your kitchen done with the winter blues? If you’re like me, spring is the perfect time to get re-inspired and focused around healthy eating. Fresh local produce is becoming more abundant and the bright sunny weather brings with it tasty & delicious barbecue season to enjoy all that fresh goodness!

No fancy juice cleanses needed here, just a shift in focus to enjoy fresh, whole foods again! A little planning and inspiration can go a long way:

  • Short on time? Plan out a few meal ideas on the weekend. This will save you from hitting the grocery store multiple times and will help you make a conscious effort to eat fresh, minimally processed foods.
  • Thirsty? Skip the pop, fraps and sugar-heavy beverages. Grab some lemon water or home-brewed ice tea instead. If you’re a juice drinker, try cutting back or mixing half with club soda.
  • Hot weather? Ditch the oven and try these easy options: veggie-loaded pasta salads, quinoa/grain salads, sandwiches, wraps, or fruit & cottage cheese plates.
  • Need some veggie inspiration? Try to play up your vegetables in new and exciting ways. Try grilling veggie kebabs on the barbecue, throwing together a fresh veggie platter with your favourite dip, or try my all-time favourite: Vietnamese salad rolls … because salad wrapped up is way more fun!

Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Cut veggies on rice paper wraps

Salad rolls are a great way to enjoy veggies in the spring – no oven required!

Makes 40 half-rolls

Prep time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients

Rolls

  • 20 (8 inch) rice paper wrappers
  • 4 oz rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch romaine or butter lettuce
  • 1 bunch green onions (white parts removed)
  • 1 bunch fresh mint

Peanut dipping sauce

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chili-garlic paste (I used sambal oelek)
  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • sesame seeds for garnish
Rice paper wrapper with mint leaves

Make sure to roll the rice paper wrap tightly!

Instructions

  1. For peanut sauce: whisk all ingredients together, sprinkle with sesame seeds. Set aside.
  2. For salad rolls: cut vegetables into thin strips. Lettuce leaves can be cut in half width-wise.
  3. Boil 4 cups of water in a kettle. Put rice noodles in a bowl and cover in boiling water. Let sit 5 minutes then drain out water.
  4. Prepare work surface with tray of cut-up vegetables, lettuce leaves and cooked rice noodles. Fill deep dish (I used a pie dish) with hot tap water and have rounds of rice paper ready.
  5. To roll each salad roll:
  • Place 1 rice paper wrapper in hot water until soft and pliable (approx. 10-15 seconds). Remove from water and place on dry plastic cutting board (or clean damp dishcloth).
  • Lay lettuce leaf just above the centre of the wrapper, leaving about 1 inch of space on each side.
  • Fill lettuce leaf with 1/4 cup cooked rice noodles, 2 strips cucumber, 3 pepper strips, 5-6 slices thinly sliced carrot, 2 mint leaves and small slice of green onion.
  • Fold top of rice paper wrapper over the bundle of cut veggies, then fold in sides and roll TIGHTLY.

Once you are finished rolling all the salad rolls, cut each one in half diagonally. Plate with peanut sauce for dipping.

Salad rolls can be made 2 days in advance, simply leave whole (un-cut) in a tray. Cover with a damp paper towel then wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

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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The sit-down family meal: A thing of the past?

Family eating at a table

Is it really worth it to take the time to eat as a family? The answer is yes!

When I think back on my childhood, some of my best memories involve food: big family gatherings for holiday meals, unplanned barbecues in the summertime, baking with my grandmother. They all revolve around enjoying food together as a family. Even when my sister and I were busy with various after-school activities, my parents almost always made sure we sat down and ate together. Now that I have a family of my own, I make a point of having a sit-down dinner most evenings. Is it really worth it to take the time to eat as a family when we could just eat on-the-go? The answer is yes!

The way in which families dine together has changed from 20+ years ago. People are often distracted by technology and lead fast-paced, busy lives. But what are we missing out on when we don’t sit down to eat together? Research shows that family meals have a big impact on the health and happiness of children. Structured family meals can:

  • Serve as an opportunity to “catch up” with one another and exchange stories.
  • Engage children in trying a variety of foods in a safe setting where others are enjoying the same foods.
  • Teach children to come to the table hungry, and eat with pleasure. They will leave happily satisfied and energized to do other things.

Family meals don’t have to be elaborate. They can be as short or as long as your schedule allows. Even sitting down to enjoy a snack together is beneficial. Some meals might be missing a family member or two for whatever reason – and that’s okay. The key is to have everyone as often as your family can manage. To get started, try these tips:

  • Set a realistic goal. If you aren’t already having family meals, try for 2 or 3 meals a week and build from there.
  • Pick a time to eat that works for most family members, or alternate times so everyone has a chance to participate.
  • Communicate to all family members about the time and place. This avoids the “I didn’t know” excuse.
  • Set aside all distractions. Come to the table gadget-free, ready to eat and connect with one another.
  • Keep the mood positive. Don’t pressure children to eat; provide a variety of food and allow them to choose whether and how much to eat.

Remember: it’s not always about what you eat, but that you are taking the time to eat together. Start making plans for your next family meal today!

More tips and resources on family meals

The Ellyn Satter Institute:

Healthy Families BC:

Tamara Grafton

About Tamara Grafton

Tamara is a UBC dietetic intern with Northern Health. Originally from the prairies, Tamara completed a BSc in Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. She moved to Prince George in 2009 and worked in the agriculture industry before applying to the dietetics program. She has a strong passion for agriculture, food and nutrition. In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her husband and young son, keeping active, cooking new foods and daydreaming about travelling when school is over.

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Pumping iron: First foods for building strong babies

At last, this exciting time has come: your baby is nearing 6 months old and can start to eat solid foods! Their tiny digestive system is now developed enough to handle many of the foods you and your family enjoy! Hooray!

…Now what?!

Giving your baby solid foods for the first time can be both exciting and intimidating. By 6 months, your baby is ready to learn to eat foods with different flavours and textures. He or she needs more nutrients than breast milk or formula can provide. Iron is especially important because your baby only has enough at birth to provide him or her until around 6 months. For this reason, babies’ first foods should be those rich in iron to ensure they have enough of this valuable nutrient for proper growth and development.

Plate of first foods

Babies’ first foods should be those rich in iron. There are lots of options for baby to explore!

Some examples include:

  • Soft, well-cooked meats and poultry (beef, moose, elk, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb)
  • Lumpy-mashed beans, legumes and lentils
  • Tender cooked eggs and tofu
  • Deboned and flaked fish
  • Iron-fortified infant cereal

Meats and poultry can be boiled or poached, and should be ground, minced or mashed. Fish can be poached or baked after removing the skin and bones. Well-cooked beans, lentils, and hard-boiled eggs can be mashed with a fork or potato masher. HealthLink BC has some great recipes for your 6-9 month old baby.

It’s important to make sure your little one is being provided with a variety of soft textures and finger foods. Progressing quickly from puree to soft and lumpy textured foods will encourage your baby to try and enjoy a variety of foods as they get older. Similarly, introducing finger foods early helps your baby get used to different food textures, improves coordination, and encourages self-feeding.

When your baby is eating iron-rich foods two or more times per day, start to offer other foods such as cooked vegetables, soft or cooked fruit, yogurt, pasteurized cheeses and cooked pasta or rice. If you would like to introduce whole cow’s milk, do so when your baby is 9-12 months old and eating a variety of iron-rich foods. This will ensure their digestive system is developed enough to digest cow’s milk and they will not turn down iron-rich foods due to filling up on milk.

Lastly, make mealtimes fun! If he or she is showing interest in feeding him- or herself, let your baby eat with their hands, explore their food and get messy. Allow your little one to eat as much or as little as they want. They will learn to follow their hunger and fullness cues, which will help them build lifelong eating skills and think about food in a positive way.

You can find more information about introducing solid foods and iron-rich first foods from the links below or by contacting HealthLink BC dietitians via email or by dialing 8-1-1.

Resources

Northern Health

HealthLinkBC

Karli Nordman

About Karli Nordman

Karli is a Dietetic Intern completing her internship throughout Northern Health. She has had a growing interest in food and nutrition for as long as she can remember and is a big advocate for a food first approach to overall health and happiness. Her passions are evenly divided between her career path and being outdoors - which makes northern B.C. the perfect place to both learn and explore.

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Foodie Friday: A hiker’s power food

I admit it: I’m a little sad to see my snow sports and equipment go into an early retirement this year. However, there’s one activity in particular that I’m more than happy to get an early start on this year: hiking! Northern B.C. is known for its stunning wilderness and unparalleled hiking trails. As a Vancouver Island transplant, I have an immense appreciation for the outdoors but have yet to discover the vast network of outdoor trails that northern B.C. has to offer. If you see me daydreaming at work while gazing out of the window, you can bet that’s where my mind is wandering!

Cookies on a plate

Because of their energy boost, fibre content, delicious flavour, and packable qualities, the Power Cookie is a staple of Karli’s hiking meal plan!

One of the most important parts of hiking, as well as any outdoor activity that makes you break a sweat, is getting proper fuel and nutrition to stay energized. Depending on how long and how intense your hike is, you can burn a pretty significant amount of calories each day. On overnight hikes, it’s especially important to plan your meals to make sure you’ve brought enough food to eat while still considering how much weight you’re carrying. Check out Mountain Equipment Co-Op’ websites on backcountry meal planning and backcountry cooking for awesome tips and meal ideas.

One food has remained a staple in my hiking meal plans for as long as I can remember: the Power Cookie. I make a batch of these little energy balls for hiking for a few reasons:

  • Oats, whole wheat flour, and applesauce give your body the carbohydrates it needs to refuel energy stores and fibre to help digestion.
  • Dried fruit, dried coconut flakes, and orange zest give these cookies a sweet and tangy taste.
  • They’re easy to make and pack into the trails!

The Power Cookie

Yields about 20 two-inch cookies.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cups large-flake oats
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and eggs. Blend well. Stir in the applesauce.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this mixture to the applesauce and mix well. Stir in the almonds, oats, coconut, apricots and cranberries. Ensure the mixture is well-blended. Chill the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Form the dough into 1″ x 2″ bars or balls and place on a large baking sheet. Press each one down with a fork to flatten slightly.
  5. Bake on the centre oven rack for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely.
Karli Nordman

About Karli Nordman

Karli is a Dietetic Intern completing her internship throughout Northern Health. She has had a growing interest in food and nutrition for as long as she can remember and is a big advocate for a food first approach to overall health and happiness. Her passions are evenly divided between her career path and being outdoors - which makes northern B.C. the perfect place to both learn and explore.

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Foodie Friday: Something fast and fishy!

Fish tacos on a plate outside

Want to spend more time outside this spring? Dietitian Lindsay’s fish tacos are easy to make so you’ll be able to enjoy them quickly (outside, if you’d like!).

Oh, spring! Our transition from winter to summer!

Do you find your tastes for foods changing at this time of year? Perhaps that hearty stew doesn’t seem so appealing anymore and now you’re craving more salads. As the days get longer, I’m finding myself wanting to spend less time inside. This creates bit of a dilemma – as much as I enjoy being outdoors, I also love ending my day with a delicious dinner, often shared with others, whether it’s my partner, friends, or family. Really, unless I have someone build me an outdoor kitchen (any takers!?), my only option to appease both of my desires is to spend as little time as possible creating some sort of delicious dish. Or pull out the barbecue and cook everything on there!

Everyone has different reasons for choosing the foods they eat: taste, health, convenience, access. What are your reasons? For me, meals have to be three things: delicious, healthy, and take as little time as possible to prepare. Of course, there will be those weekend dinners that I’ll spend a bit more time on but day to day, they need to be quick.

So, I bring to you: Pescado Blanco Fish Tacos out of the Whitewater Cooks With Friends cookbook! These little tacos are packed with complete protein, heart-healthy fats from fish and avocados, and fibrous red cabbage. They can also be made in about 30-45 minutes – or even less time if you have leftover fish from earlier in the week.

Pescado Blanco Fish Tacos

Serves 6

Ingredients

Orange Avocado Salsa

  • 3 oranges, peeled, diced, and drained
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced finely
  • 2 medium avocados, diced into ½ inch cubes
  • ¾ tsp salt

Tacos

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ lbs fish (halibut, red snapper, cod or salmon)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 cups red cabbage, very thinly sliced

Optional: Chipotle Crema

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tsp half and half cream
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (the sauce from canned chipotle peppers)

Instructions

  1. If using chipotle crema, whisk together sour cream, half and half cream and adobo sauce until well blended. Refrigerate.
  2. Combine oranges, cilantro, jalapeno peppers, red onion, avocado and salt. Mix gently with a spoon in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  4. Wrap tortillas in tin foil and place in oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle fish pieces with cumin, paprika and onion powder.
  6. Heat oil in two sauté pans until almost smoking.
  7. Divide fish into two batches and sear in individual hot pans until just done, about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Lay two warm tortillas on each person’s plate.
  9. Spread thin layer of red cabbage on each tortilla, followed by seared fish, then a spoonful of orange avocado salsa. Finish with a dollop of chipotle crema (if using).
  10. Enjoy!
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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Foodie Friday: Pulses, lycopene, and the black bean salsa that ties them all together!

Salsa ingredients on a cutting board

With fibre from black beans and lycopene from tomatoes, this black bean salsa is easy to make and packs a nutritional punch!

Have you ever tried black bean salsa? Don’t be scared away! It’s just like normal salsa, but it has black beans in it! It’s a deliciously sneaky way to add more fibre, protein and pulses to your diet!

You may have read a lot from my fellow dietitians about pulses during Foodie Fridays this year. Why’s that? Because the United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses! The goal is to increase awareness of the nutritional benefits and how pulses are an important part of a sustainable food system. Learn more from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

What is a “pulse” anyway? Are they good for you?

Pulses are a family of plants including:

  • Dried peas (think split pea soup)
  • Dry beans (think pork and beans – like the ones you take camping)
  • Lentils (small disc shapes you might see in soups or stews)
  • Chickpeas (think hummus)

Things you may know:

  • Pulses are high in fibre! This helps with regularity, keeping you feeling full longer. Many Canadians are not getting the recommended amounts of fibre in each day. The recommended daily intake of fibre is 38 g/day of total fibre for men and 25 g/day of total fibre for women.
  • Pulses are a good source of protein! This makes them a great plant-based alternative to meat or animal products.

Things you may not know:

  • Pulses have a low glycemic index, meaning that they are digested and absorbed slowly in the body and help to keep blood sugar levels more stable.
  • Pulses can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body because they contain soluble fibre.
  • Pulses use half the non-renewable energy inputs of other crops and have a low carbon footprint! Pulse Canada has more information about pulses and sustainability.

Information above based off of Pulse Canada.

Tomatoes and lycopene

Let’s also talk tomatoes. Garden tomatoes in season taste fantastic (like they should taste), but store-bought ones out of season often taste and look bland. The key to any recipe is fresh ingredients! In the winter and spring, I prefer to use canned tomato products because they are harvested and preserved at the peak of ripeness. Also, did you know that the heating process involved in canning tomatoes increases the amount of lycopene in tomatoes by about 7 times?

Lycopene is an antioxidant that is strongly linked to preventing cancer! Lycopene is particularly well known for the protective effects it has against prostate cancer. Tomatoes are by far the winner when it comes to lycopene content of food so consider canned tomato products a nutritious option.

Information above based off of the Canadian Nutrient Files.

Bowl of salsa

Black bean salsa is a great way to sneak some pulses into your menu!

Black Bean Salsa

Recipe sourced from: Dietitians of Canada Cookbook, Simply Great Food, by Patricia Chuey, Eileen Campbell and Mary Sue Waisman.

Makes enough to feed a crowd.

Salsa recipe ideas:

  • Serve this salsa with lettuce and veggies, avocado, chopped cooked chicken, and corn for a simple Mexican salad.
  • Top your favourite burrito or taco filling with this salsa for a high fibre punch.
  • Add salsa to scrambled or poached eggs and serve on toast for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Spoon salsa over white fish or chicken before baking in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups tomatoes, diced (if in season) or 750 mL can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced (optional)
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro (optional if you aren’t a cilantro fan)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Juice of 2 limes

Instructions

  1. Chop tomatoes, if using, or empty canned tomatoes into a large bowl. You can drain the extra juice if you like your salsa more chunky than wet.
  2. Mince onion, jalapeno and cilantro and add to the tomatoes.
  3. Rinse black beans and add to the salsa.
  4. Add olive oil, salt and freshly squeezed lime juice. Stir well to combine.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Enjoy!
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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Foodie Friday: Quinoa, have you tried it?

Quinoa and peas

Quinoa is easy, versatile, and packs a nutritional punch! Don’t be intimidated by this relatively new ingredient!

Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is one of those foods that many of us had never heard of just a few years ago but now, we see it everywhere! In talking to people, I find there are many who aren’t sure what to do with quinoa or how to cook it.

Quinoa is very versatile, easy to prepare, and delicious; it can be eaten either hot or cold. You can use quinoa to make a hot cereal dish in the morning, use it as a side dish, use it in soups or salads, or make it the base of stews or chili. One of the big benefits of quinoa is that it cooks a lot quicker than other whole grains like brown rice, so it can be a great choice for those time-crunched days.

So, what is quinoa and what are its benefits?

Quinoa is native to South America and is a seed, although we generally use it like a grain in cooking. Quinoa is a good source of fibre, folate, protein, phosphorus, copper, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Quinoa comes in white, red, and black varieties and the cooking time varies slightly between the varieties. It has a slightly nutty taste but is overall mild. I love quinoa for its ease of cooking and use it regularly!

Try this quinoa recipe to make a tasty side dish. Leftovers can easily be stored in the fridge for a couple days. They also freeze well for use later.

Quinoa with Peas

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.com

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter/margarine
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp parsley

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa and cook 2 minutes until toasted.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth and add the onion, garlic, thyme and pepper. Cover and let come to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, add in the frozen peas. Re-cover; reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Continue simmering until the quinoa is tender and has absorbed the chicken stock, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the parsley and enjoy.
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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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.

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Foodie Friday: Make small changes to your portion sizes

It’s Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Take a 100 Meal Journey: Make Small Changes, One Meal at a Time”. It’s a great chance to reflect on what small, healthy changes we can all make in our food choices and habits, including portion sizes.

Consider the following:

How many times do we overeat when we are presented with a large, delicious-looking plate of food? Do we know when to stop eating because we are full and not because we’ve eaten every last bite? Just think about how easy it is to sit down with a bag of chips or popcorn and eat more than our share’s worth.

I know I’m guilty of these things at times.

Over the past few decades, larger portions have become normal. The size of dinner plates has increased, packaged goods come in larger quantities, and restaurants serve meals so large that they skew our perceptions of what a “normal” portion size actually looks like. Undoubtedly, larger portions play a role in how much we eat and can contribute to excess weight gain. When larger portions, especially larger portions of less nutritious foods, become part of our daily norm, they can impact our health and well-being in the long run.

If portion sizes are an area you struggle with, now is a great time to start making small changes! Consider the following tips to help you begin:

  • Become familiar with the recommendations for total daily servings for your age and gender and what a serving size looks like, according to Canada’s Food Guide. Take a look at this handout on estimating portion sizes using your hands.
  • Fill half your plate with vegetables at mealtimes. Increasing the amount of vegetables you put on your plate will help moderate the portions of other foods.
  • When eating out, ask for a to-go container with your meal and place some of your meal in it before taking your first bite. Or split the meal with a friend.
  • Instead of taking the whole bag, place a couple handfuls of chips or popcorn into a small bowl to prevent mindless munching.
  • Check out your plate size. Consider choosing a smaller plate to help avoid dishing up too much food.

It’s also important to remember to enjoy the food we eat; paying attention to when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Small, conscious changes to what we eat and how much we eat can lead to long-term benefits.

Bowl of curry over rice

Tamara’s small, nourishing change for Nutrition Month is to switch out some of her portions of meat and poultry for protein alternatives like beans, lentils and chickpeas. Her favourite sweet potato chickpea curry recipe is a great way to get started!

What changes will you make for Nutrition Month?

I’m pledging to switch out some of my portions of meat and poultry for protein alternatives like beans, lentils and chickpeas. I already started by digging out one of my favourite vegetarian recipes, which I’m sharing with you below. I hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

From Chef Michael Smith

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Small knob of frozen ginger (*see tip below)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Thai curry paste
  • 2 sweet potatoes (or yams), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 19 oz (540 ml) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 14 oz (398 ml) can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup (250 ml) orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) peanut butter (or other nut butter)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) frozen green peas
  • Several handfuls baby spinach
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) chopped cilantro (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add a splash or two of vegetable oil to a stockpot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and sauté them until they’re lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Grate the frozen ginger into the pan and add the Thai curry paste. Continue cooking until the spices are heated through and fragrant, another few minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, orange juice, peanut butter, and salt. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the peas, spinach and cilantro.
  4. Serve over rice.

*Tip: I like to store whole, unpeeled ginger in the freezer and grate it as needed. If sealed in a bag or container, it’ll keep for many months so I always have some on hand.

Tamara Grafton

About Tamara Grafton

Tamara is a UBC dietetic intern with Northern Health. Originally from the prairies, Tamara completed a BSc in Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. She moved to Prince George in 2009 and worked in the agriculture industry before applying to the dietetics program. She has a strong passion for agriculture, food and nutrition. In her downtime, she enjoys spending time with her husband and young son, keeping active, cooking new foods and daydreaming about travelling when school is over.

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Manage your munchies & fuel up: 5 tips for Nutrition Month!

March is Nutrition Month in Canada. For the last two weeks, dietitians Marianne and Rebecca have been sharing their tips for small, nourishing changes that we can all make to boost our health.

This week, they’re offering five more tips to help you on your 100 Meal Journey. Don’t miss the tips for week one and week two.

Bowl of nuts.

Try to keep treat-type snacks out of sight so you’ll be less likely to nibble. Nourishing snacks like nuts can be kept within reach!

Manage munchies! Keep treat-type snack foods out of sight so you’ll be less likely to nibble.

Studies show you are more likely to choose available, easily reached foods, so try these tips to make the healthy choice, the easy choice:

  1. Keep nourishing snacks (e.g., hardboiled eggs, cut-up veggies, yogurt, nuts, whole grain crackers) on an eye-level shelf in the fridge or cupboards so that something healthy is the first thing you see.
  2. Put high-fat, high-sugar treats like cookies into non-transparent containers at the back of the fridge or cupboard so they’re out of sight.
  3. Clear kitchen counters of all food except for a bowl of fresh fruit for crunchy snacking.

Healthy Families BC has tools and tips to check if your home and work are set up to make healthy choices easy.

Fuel up! Eat fibre- and protein-rich foods for long-lasting satisfaction.

Finding yourself hungry too soon after eating meals or snacks? You might need to add more fibre- and protein-rich foods to your meals. Fibre helps fill you up and protein helps your energy last longer. Together, they deliver meal and snack satisfaction!

  1. Fibre up. Choose more vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains (e.g., barley or oatmeal), ground flax, nuts and seeds, and pulses (e.g., lentils, black beans, chickpeas).
  2. Put protein on your plate. Enjoy small portions of meat, fish, poultry or alternatives (e.g., eggs, pulses, tofu) and milk products.

Want to try these tips? Try this fibre- and protein-rich recipe.

What small, nourishing changes have you made this month?


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.

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