Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Summer salads are for sharing

Three food dishes on a picnic table.

Whether it’s a potluck at a park or a backyard BBQ, food is a great way to connect with the people in our lives!

It’s that time of year again – the sun is shining, the kids are (almost) done school, and the desire to enjoy the outdoors is in full effect. Yes, summer is here! One of my favourite things about summer is the opportunity to gather with family and friends to enjoy the outdoors and share delicious food. It might be a backyard BBQ, a picnic at the lake, or a potluck celebration at the park. Food is such a great way to connect with the people in our lives. It provides us with the opportunity to get together and share not only our favourite dishes, but also our thoughts, ideas, culture and traditions. Plus, we often eat better when we eat with others.

Salads are often my go-to dish when I’m asked to bring something to share, and this coleslaw recipe provides a great twist on a summertime classic. It replaces the typical creamy dressing (not such a great idea to have out in the hot sun) with a sweet and tangy one, and includes some less traditional veggies like kale and green pepper. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, it also won’t heat up your kitchen, can be made ahead of time, keeps well, and makes enough to feed a hungry crowd. Try it out at your next summer BBQ!

Sweet & Tangy Big Batch Coleslaw

Adapted from “Mustard Spiked Make Ahead Coleslaw” from Sask Mustard.

Serves 10 or more.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups finely shredded cabbage (green, red, or both)
  • 4 cups finely shredded kale
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 large stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • ½ green bell pepper, minced
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¾ tsp salt

Dressing

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp yellow prepared mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Coleslaw

This mustard-spiked coleslaw keeps well, feeds a crowd, and ditches the typical creamy dressing. Try it out!

Instructions

  1. Combine cabbage, kale, green onion, celery, carrot, green pepper, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir well. Let stand 2-3 hours.
  2. Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard, mustard seed, celery seed, and dill together in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in oil and garlic into dressing mixture.
  4. Pour dressing over cabbage mixture. Refrigerate covered for at least 4 hours or overnight, mixing a couple of times.

Note: Will keep well in the fridge for at least a week.

Looking for some other summer salads? Try one of these:

Taste the Rainbow Potato Salad

Grilled Corn, Arugula, and Couscous Salad

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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Foodie Friday: Seniors’ Week edition

Senior gardening with kids

Don’t miss out on essential nutrients as you age!

As we age, our appetites decrease and we often pay less attention to nutrition. Many seniors live alone and have difficulty finding motivation to cook proper meals and therefore may miss out on many essential nutrients. With Seniors’ Week in B.C. upon us, it’s a great time to look at one of these essential nutrients: calcium!

Are you getting enough calcium?

Health Canada recommends women over the age of 51 and men over the age of 70 get 1200 mg of calcium each day. Men under 70 require only 1000 mg. It’s recommended that we reach this goal through a combination of nutrient-rich foods, using supplements only when necessary. Always talk to your doctor or registered dietitian before taking a calcium supplement.

So what does 1200 mg look like? A good rule of thumb is that a serving of dairy contains approximately 300 mg of calcium. One serving might look like a 50 g serving of cheese (the size of your thumb), 1 cup of milk, or ¾ cup yogurt. If you typically drink a milk alternative such as rice or almond milk, check the label to make sure it’s fortified with calcium. One cup should provide you with about 30% of your daily value.

Although dairy products are the most popular calcium source, many non-dairy foods are great sources of calcium as well. My current favourite is chia seeds. Due to their increase in popularity, they are now easy to find in most stores and are versatile when it comes to how you can use them. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain about half the calcium of a cup of milk! Want to add some calcium to your diet? Try this chia seed jam as an alternative to the store-bought varieties! Have an older friend, family member, or neighbour? Why not make them a jar or two and stop by for a visit!

Magical Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam

From Oh She Glows (one of my go-to blogs!)

Yields about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3-4 tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a non-stick pot, bring blueberries and maple syrup to a low boil. Stir frequently and reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes. Lightly mash with a potato masher or fork, leaving some blueberries for texture.
  2. Stir in the chia seeds until thoroughly combined and cook the mixture down until it thickens to your desired consistency (about 15 minutes). Stir frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pot.
  3. Once the jam is thick, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add more maple syrup to taste if desired. Share a jar with an older neighbour or friend or enjoy on toast, baked goods, and more. The jam should keep for at least a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.
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 goes camping! Eating well & tantalizing taste buds in the backcountry

Campfire

Camping season is here! Which delicious and healthy campfire meals will you try this year?

Camping season is here! With thousands of lakes in our own northern backyard, it’s a quick trek out to the wilderness to get away from the daily grind. Pack your tent, sleeping bags, bug spray, and … hot dogs? No way!

Meals like mac and cheese, hot dogs, or pork and beans are “classic” camping foods, but there are a ton of other tantalizing meals you can make in the backcountry using a camping stove, BBQ, or fire that will nourish you while you relax your body and mind in nature.

For most campers, camping activities typically revolve around food. For my husband and I, it’s important to make healthy choices throughout the trip but still enjoy nostalgic camping foods. Here is a typical camping day for us, filled with food that keeps us energized to enjoy the wilderness:

View of forest from a tent

What does your typical camping day look like?

  • Wake up bright and early to a hot cup of percolated coffee made by my husband. Then, off we go on the boat to fish for a few hours.
  • Come back to camp for a big breakfast complete with eggs, hash browns, my hubby’s homemade bacon, wholegrain toast, and fruit.
  • Head out for a hike or go back on the lake with some homemade trail mix, fruit, and veggie sticks.
  • Relax in the sunshine with a quick tuna sandwich and maybe a soup if it’s chilly.
  • Enjoy dinner, which is always the star of the show! One night is almost always a steak, grilled potato pouches, homemade fresh focaccia, and veggie skewers or grilled Caesar salad.
  • Wind down around the fire with a campfire dessert like bannock, banana boats, or everyone’s favourite: s’mores.

Because camping truly revolves around meals and snacks, one of my favourite parts about camping is meal planning and finding creative ways to enjoy vegetables so we can continue to eat well while away from home. I try to prep the meals as much as possible at home so cooking a meal in nature is still stress-free, so I always make sure to cut-up vegetables for skewers and snacking and make any sauces ahead of time.

Here is one of my favourite veggie sides that doesn’t require a knife and fork to eat – perfect for camping! I served it with spicy beer can chicken and roasted potatoes, which makes a great camping meal.

Grilled Caesar salad with chicken and potatoes on a plate.

After a few minutes to make the dressing at home, a grilled Caesar salad can be a great veggie side dish for your camping culinary adventures!

Grilled Caesar Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 romaine hearts, cut in half length-wise with the core intact
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 6-10 capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except lettuce until smooth. When camping, do this part at home and keep it in a small container in the cooler.
  2. On medium heat or on the campfire grill, place romaine hearts cut-side down onto the grill. Grill until there are char marks and the lettuce is slightly wilting.
  3. Brush the dressing onto the cut side of the grilled romaine heart and enjoy!

What’s your favourite camping meal or favourite way to make veggies for the outdoors?

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: 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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