Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Handling Halloween

Ingredients for stew recipe

Use some of B.C.’s delicious fall harvest vegetables to prepare a Moroccan stew this fall!

There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are changing to beautiful colours of yellow, red and orange and it is getting darker earlier (way earlier) – all evidence that autumn is here. For many children, this means that one of their most anticipated holidays of the season is near: Halloween! Kids everywhere look forward to trick-or-treating on Halloween and this can be a dilemma for many parents who worry about the sugary treats that their kids will be eating.

I often remind parents in this situation of Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding. Sugary treats in and of themselves are not the problem; it is when these treats replace healthy foods and are frequently eaten instead meals and snacks that they can be a problem.

Parents and caregivers are responsible for offering regular meals and sit-down snacks. In other words, parents decide what to provide and when to provide it. Children, in turn, are responsible for deciding how much to eat and whether or not to eat what is offered. This allows children to learn to self-regulate food intake (including sweet treats) by listening to their internal cues of hunger and fullness to decide how much to eat.

Now let’s apply the Division of Responsibility in Feeding to the pile of Halloween candy that your kids bring home on October 31!

As the parent or caregiver, you decide when to offer the treats. Maybe you will offer some with an after-school snack or perhaps as dessert a few times a week. When candy is on the menu, offer it along with the snack or meal and let your child choose what and how much to eat from everything that is offered. Eventually, the novelty of the candy will wear off and you will notice they will begin to eat less of the candy and more of the healthier options as long as you keep the structure of regular meals and sit-down snacks. Kids, like adults, crave variety when it comes to eating and will tire quickly of eating only the candy portion of their meal or snack.

How will you handle Halloween this year?

Another tell-tale sign of autumn is the fall harvest in our gardens, communities, and grocery stores! I myself love autumn because of the food we reap from the fall harvest: colourful winter squash from my garden, B.C. McIntosh apples (think homemade applesauce and apple pie!), and pears from the neighbours’ trees, to name a few.

The recipe below is a favourite dish in our house and I often make it before the trick-or-treating begins.

Moroccan Stew

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada‘s Simply Great Food


  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 small to medium-sized butternut squash or 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger root, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can (19 oz / 540 ml) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 4 cups low-sodium broth


  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, squash, ginger, cumin and cinnamon; cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until vegetables are just tender.
  4. Enjoy!
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.


World Breastfeeding Week: One mom’s story

Child at breast.

With the support of a daycare, one Prince George mom has been able to keep up breastfeeding while balancing work demands. How can you support breastfeeding in your community?

October 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week in Canada. The theme for the week this year is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work. We all have a role to play in supporting mothers to balance work and family demands. For me, this story of a working mom in Prince George is a great example of how we can support breastfeeding and strike this balance. Many thanks to the mom who shared this story and photo with me:

When I returned to work after my maternity leave, I was committed to finding ways to spend as much time with my son as possible, and to keeping up breastfeeding. So, as I interviewed and visited daycares, one of the most important questions I asked was whether the care provider was open to me visiting on my lunch hour to nurse my son. Both my previous and current daycares were very accommodating by providing us with a quiet and comfortable place to nurse. I’m proud to say that I’ve been spending lunch hours with my son for a full year now! Not only is it best for his healthy physical development, it’s also best to foster our attachment. And it’s a lovely midday break from the stresses and worries of work!

How can you support breastfeeding at home, at work, and in your community?

Stacy Hake

About Stacy Hake

Stacy is the Administrative Assistant for the Perinatal Program. She started with Northern Health at Mental Health & Addiction Services before moving over to the Northeast Medical Health Officer’s office and then onto the Perinatal Program. She lives and works in Fort St. John with her husband, two children and mother-in-law. When not working, she volunteers with her children’s dance/theatre productions and cheers during swimming lessons.


World Breastfeeding Week: We all have a role to play!

Quote from article.

How can you support breastfeeding in your family, workplace, and community?

Canada celebrates World Breastfeeding Week every year from October 1-7 (check out the Government of B.C.’s proclamation of the week for 2015!). This gives Canadians the chance to acknowledge and promote breastfeeding as an important milestone on the road to lifelong health for both mothers and babies.

The World Health Organization recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding in addition to complementary foods into and beyond the second year. The longer a baby is breastfed, the greater the health benefits. Unfortunately, many mothers wean their children early and the main reason for this is a lack of support.

We all have a role to play! The journey to successful breastfeeding requires the support of families, health care providers, and other community members. Families can show support by helping with day-to-day tasks so that the new mother can focus her time and attention on feeding her baby. Health care providers can encourage women to breastfeed and assist them to find skilled help if they have concerns. Community gathering places can show that they are welcoming to breastfeeding mothers. Northern Health’s Growing for Gold campaign provides window decals for businesses and facilities to show their support for breastfeeding mothers.

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work”. The theme highlights the importance of supporting mothers to balance work and family demands. Workplace support not only helps the mother and family, but benefits employers through higher productivity, greater employee satisfaction and less employee absenteeism as breastfed babies get sick less often. Check out Breastfeeding and Returning to Work and the web-based Breastfeeding Buddy app from HealthyFamiliesBC with tips, tools, and videos to support breastfeeding.

Communities throughout northern B.C. are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in a variety of ways. Whether you are a breastfeeding mother, a family member, or simply interested in creating a community that is supportive of breastfeeding, I encourage you to acknowledge or join in with the celebrations in your community.

I’ve listed some of these activities below. What’s happening in your community?

  • Prince George: Mayor’s proclamation & Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at the Northern Interior Health Unit (doors open at 9:30 a.m. for registration).
  • Quesnel: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at the Quesnel Child Development Centre (come early to register).
  • Hazelton: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at Starting Smart at the Grace Lynn Family Centre (behind Wrinch Memorial Hospital). Door prizes and a light brunch served after the challenge. Arrive at 10:30 a.m. or call ahead to register: 250-842-4608. You can also register and latch on at home, if transportation is difficult.
  • Fort St. John: Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 11:00 a.m. at Community Bridge (10142 101 Ave). Arrive by 10:45 a.m. to register.
  • Smithers: Breastfeeding Challenge. October 3, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Smithers Public Library (3817 Alfred Ave).
Karen Warner

About Karen Warner

Karen is currently working as a Lactation Consultant at UHNBC after a long career with Preventive Public Health. Karen's strong commitment to providing support to breastfeeding families is a result of what she has learned through her work over the years: that a healthy start in life is the first step in the journey to long term well-being. Promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding is key to influencing that healthy start. In her leisure time, depending on the season, you will find Karen crafting, gardening, hiking, cross-country skiing or just hanging out enjoying time with her family.


Foodie Friday: Take the stress out of weekday mornings – busy morning breakfasts

Square of baked oatmeal and glass of milk.

Give your body’s energy factory the fuel it needs to support you throughout the day! Try Carly’s make-ahead baked oatmeal!

If you’re anything like me, you wake up on a workday morning and amble into the kitchen in search of breakfast. You may be thinking about the meetings you’ve got scheduled that day, the workout you are trying to squeeze in before work or making your kids’ lunches. Probably the last thing on your brain is a nutritious and satisfying meal to kick-start your energy.

But research shows that people who eat breakfast have more energy and better mental alertness and concentration for their workday. Think of it this way: overnight, when your body rests, so too does your energy production factory (your metabolism).When you wake up in the morning, if you don’t give your energy factory fuel (food) to work with, it won’t produce much energy. As a result, you’ll likely feel tired well into the day!

If you need a little more convincing of breakfast’s many benefits, I suggest you check out this article from Today’s Dietitian.

Because it’s so good both hot and cold and reheats well, let this filling and nutritious make-ahead breakfast take the stress out of your weekday morning routine! I like to make this ahead of time, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but you could also throw it together in less than 20 minutes while cleaning up from a weeknight supper if you’d prefer. This is a recipe I found on Epicurious – a foodie’s dream website with hundreds of well-tested recipes.

Square of baked oatmeal on a plate

This make-ahead baked oatmeal is delicious hot or cold and portions out easily for nutritious and filling weekday breakfasts!

Berry Banana Baked Oatmeal


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup toasted, chopped walnut or pecan pieces
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups berries
  • 2 cups milk or milk alternative
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and half of the nuts. Set aside.
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine the milk, egg, maple syrup, melted butter and vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish, cut bananas into 1 cm rounds and arrange evenly on the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter half of the berries into the bottom of the baking dish with the bananas. Evenly spread the dry oat mixture on top of the fruit in the baking dish. Evenly pour the milk mixture on top of the oats – make sure to get all of the corners saturated. Scatter the other half of the berries and toasted nuts on top.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and there are no wet areas. Serve with additional melted butter or maple syrup to taste.

This baked oatmeal is scrumptious both hot and cold and lends itself well to reheating or travelling. To make breakfast a breeze, allow the baked oatmeal to completely cool, then cut into squares and portion into reusable containers or wax paper for transport on your busy mornings!

Carly Phinney

About Carly Phinney

Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.


Foodie Friday: Easy mason jar parfait

Yogurt parfait in mason jar.

Mason jar breakfasts can pack a powerful punch and are super easy to grab-and-go! Try Rilla’s recipe or mix it up with your favourite fruits and nuts.

Mason jars are a great way to take your breakfast up a notch. Their fun presentation gives a sneak peek into a colourful, appealing meal before we actually dig in!

Mason jars can be used to store and transport your meal and can also be used for baking or shaking/mixing ingredients.

This cool idea makes portion control at breakfast easy, with the added bonus of a portable and environmentally friendly container! Make a mason jar your new favourite Tupperware or lunchbox.

Need an idea to fill your mason jar?

Mix up the goodness of quinoa with greek yogurt, fruit and nuts for a breakfast with some staying power. This meal combination has a healthy dose of good fats, protein and carbs to start your day off right!

This recipe is extremely versatile. Try using granola in place of quinoa, a variety of fruit in place of blueberries, or other nuts, dried fruit or nut butter in place of almonds! The options are endless, and ensure that you’ll never be bored with your breakfast meal again!

Easy Mason Jar Parfait


  • ¼ cup cooked and cooled quinoa
  • ½ cup plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp almonds
  • Pure maple syrup, to taste


  1. Prepare quinoa the night before as per package instructions. Cool overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Layer yogurt, quinoa, fruit and nuts and top with maple syrup to taste.

Try making these the night before or in batches for a quick grab-and-go breakfast in the morning!

Rilla Reardon

About Rilla Reardon

Rilla is a Registered Dietitian working for Northern Health since 2013. Rilla moved to northern BC from the east coast to continue developing her skills as a dietitian in a clinical setting while enjoying all that the north has to offer. Outside of work, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or navigating the trails around Prince George with her dog, Henry. Rilla channels her passion for nutrition into practice, inspiring others to nourish their bodies, minds and souls with delicious and healthy food!


Foodie Friday: Turn up the heat! Cooking healthy meals on the BBQ

BBQ chicken, mango salsa, asparagus, and carrots on a plate.

Think outside the steak for the grill this summer! Erin’s jerk chicken recipe is a great option for a healthy and quick BBQ dinner!

Summer is here!

Hot weather invites you to enjoy the outdoors, and cooking is no exception. Unless you enjoy cooking in a hot kitchen while gazing out at the beautiful sunshine, it’s time to pull out the barbecue and get creative!

While I was in Vancouver, I ran a community kitchen as part of a local organization that empowered families to grow their own food and cook delicious and healthy meals from their bounty. We cooked everything on a barbecue, from cedar-planked salmon to homemade wild blueberry perogies, to show that anything is possible with a little creativity and improvisation.

When you think about barbecuing, are you envisioning a juicy steak with grilled potatoes and corn on the cob?

While that is definitely an option, I like to try new things on the barbecue and also look outside of the typical steak and potato meal for cancer prevention.

Eating a diet high in red meat has been shown to increase cancer risk and grilled or barbecued meat may further increase your risk of developing cancer. According to the Dietitians of Canada, when meat is cooked at a high temperature, like on the grill, fat can drip onto hot flames. This can cause flare-ups and cancer-causing compounds may be formed. To help keep healthy while enjoying your favourite foods on the barbecue, here are a few tips.

Tips for a healthy BBQ season

  • Choose kabobs or thin cuts of meat to minimize time on the grill.
  • Trim off visible fat to help reduce flare-ups.
  • Marinate your meats to reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds by 80-90%!
  • Barbecue at a lower temperature.
  • Trim off any burnt or charred pieces.
  • Opt for vegetarian items! Grilling vegetables doesn’t increase your cancer risk.

Last night, I enjoyed this spicy jerk chicken with mango salsa, using butterflied and marinated chicken for a quick and healthy summer dinner.

Chicken, vegetables, and rice on a plate.

Butterflied chicken (or small cuts of meat on a kabob) is one way to minimize time on the grill and make your BBQ healthier this summer. What are your BBQ favourites?

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa


  • 4 chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded 1 inch thick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red chili flakes
  • ½ tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced

Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Combine spices and lime juice together to create a paste. Rub over chicken and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  2. Turn the barbecue on to medium heat.
  3. Make the mango salsa by combining mango, red onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt together in medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  4. Place chicken on the barbecue and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until golden brown. Flip chicken and cook on the other side until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
  5. Serve chicken with mango salsa and your favourite sides.

Food safety is still important on the grill. For tips to keep barbecuing safe, check out tips from Health Canada.

Don’t feel like cooking? Check out Carly’s “full-meal-deal salad” for a quick summertime dinner.

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.


Foodie Friday: Planting seeds for healthy eating

Tomatoes, corn, eggs, chives, and potatoes

How do you involve kids in cooking? Even young kids can wash veggies or use a butter knife to cut up hard-boiled eggs. Hands-on food experiences help build kids’ knowledge, skills, and confidence with food.

Are you interested in helping kids become good eaters? Young children can’t do much with nutrition information, but they do benefit from:

Now that summer has arrived, there are many opportunities for hands-on food experiences for children. Build curiosity and excitement by involving kids in growing and gathering food. Even one potato plant or tomato plant in a large pot, or a small pot of chives or parsley, can provide great learning experiences for kids.


  • their excitement as they see the plant starting to grow
  • their sense of pride when they water the plant
  • their anticipation when they harvest the food from the plant
  • their curiosity as this food becomes part of a meal or snack

These practical learning experiences build their knowledge, skills and confidence with food.

Here is a recipe for a potato salad that can be made with local or store-bought ingredients this summer. It’s a flexible recipe – if you don’t have one of the vegetables, no troubles (well, except the potatoes – it just wouldn’t be potato salad without the potatoes, right?). Involve your kids! Even young kids can wash vegetables, use a butter knife to cut up the boiled eggs, or mix together the dressing.

Interested in more ways to plant seeds for healthy eating? Check out the resources for parents, teachers, and childcare programs after the recipe.

Potato salad

Not your same ol’ tater salad! Lise shares a perfect summer recipe with lots of modification options for your family to explore!

Not your same ol’ tater salad



  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • Pepper, to taste


  • 7 medium potatoes, diced, boiled and drained (try keeping the skin on)
  • 2-3 ears of corn, boiled, niblets cut from the cob (or 1-2 cups canned or frozen corn)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1-2 cups green beans, steamed and chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • Small bunch of chives, chopped


  1. Boil potatoes, drain and put in a large bowl.
  2. Mix together dressing and toss in with potatoes (the dressing absorbs well when the potatoes are still warm).
  3. Prepare all other ingredients and mix together with potatoes.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


Add or substitute kale, parsley, basil, baby tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, radishes, or something else! What would you or your kids tweak in this recipe?

More resources

For schools

  • Start small with a program like the BC Agriculture in the Classroom “Spuds in Tubs” program.

For childcare

  • Food Flair is a resource for early learning practitioners with many food activities for young children. See the “Fun and Learning About Healthy Eating,” “Bundles of Fun,” and “Let’s Make” sections.

At home

  • In addition to hands-on activities in the garden or in the kitchen, check out your local library’s collection of kids’ books about growing, harvesting, cooking and eating food.
  • Check out Better Together BC and the videos from winners of the Hands-On Cook-Off contest.
Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise started her career as a dietitian with Northern Health in 2004 when she moved to Terrace "for a year." More than 10 years later, she is now part of the regional population health registered dietitian team and she continues to love living, working and playing in B.C.'s northwest. Lise enjoys playing outside with her husband and friends and you might find her skiing, biking or kiting. She’s passionate about local food, keeps a garden, enjoys local community-supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers market goodies, and carries out food preservation projects.


Celebrating First Nations traditional foods

Community garden in greenhouse structure

At community gardens like this one in Cheslatta, First Nations communities are building on the knowledge and skills of Elders to ensure access to healthy food for all. Have you tried any First Nations traditional foods?
(Photo credit: Hilary McGregor, Aboriginal Health, Northern Health)

Many Elders and health providers from First Nations communities have shared their knowledge with me about traditional foods. I am repeatedly surprised by the flavour, nutritional value and health benefits of traditional foods. I tell my significant other, who is a member of the Kitselas First Nation, that his canned salmon is like “pure gold” because of how much work and care he puts into harvesting and processing the fish – not to mention how amazing it tastes!

Working as a dietitian, I have learned nutritional information about traditional foods that I didn’t know before. For example, seaweed is an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Moose is rich in protein and B vitamins. Most wild game is higher in nutrients than livestock and food products made from livestock like bologna and wieners.

My children are Nisga’a and we were fortunate to be given some eulachon this year. Eulachon are small, oil-rich fish that spawn in rivers along the west coast. They are high in vitamin A and calcium. Vitamin A helps our bodies to fight infection and keeps our eyes and skin healthy while calcium helps to keep our bones and teeth strong.

In addition to the nutritional value of the food itself, another great advantage of traditional food gathering is the health benefits from harvesting such as connecting with the land and with one’s culture and family, as well as exercise. These are important aspects of holistic health and well-being.

Gardening is another way to access fresh and nutritious food, connect with family, and be physically active. In my work, I notice more First Nations communities across the north developing community gardens and harvesting or growing traditional plants and medicines. Many of these communities are remote and have limited access to healthy store-bought foods, which is all the more reason to build on the knowledge and skills of Elders to ensure access to healthy food for all.

There is so much to learn, celebrate and sustain! For more information on traditional foods and nutrition, check out the First Nations Traditional Foods Fact Sheets from the First Nations Health Authority.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of Northern Health’s A Healthier You magazine.


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.


Foodie Friday: The full-meal-deal salad

Salad in a bowl.

Four steps and twenty minutes is all it took for Carly to create a filling and nutritious salad. It’s a great choice for a summer meal!

When it’s hot outside, I rarely feel like cooking a meal in my cramped and stifling kitchen. I want the job of feeding myself taken care of so I can get outside in the sun! This is when I employ the “full-meal-deal salad” – it’s quick, there’s little to no cooking involved and it’s nutritious so it keeps you fuelled for your summertime activities!

It’s as simple as four steps:

Step 1: Start with a base like torn-up lettuce or, for the ultimate of ease, use bagged or boxed mixed salad greens.

Step 2: Next, add the veggies – some good ideas are red/yellow/orange/green bell peppers, tomato, carrot, mushrooms, celery, alfalfa sprouts, green onions/chives, avocado, cucumber, radishes, and snap/snow peas. Even some fruits work well on savoury salads. Try thinly sliced strawberries or apple or simply toss on some blueberries, blackberries or dried cranberries.

Step 3: Time for the protein! There are so many excellent options to add protein to salad. Definitely don’t leave this step out because the protein is what’s going to make sure your salad keeps you feeling full. Some ideas include:

  • Leftover meat from last night’s supper: Try slicing up chicken breast into thin strips or use a scoop of ground beef or moose.
  • Hard-boiled eggs: You can boil up several and store them in the fridge to save time.
  • Nuts: Many varieties of nuts can be bought pre-chopped from the bulk section. Try almonds, walnuts, pecans or cashews. Look for the unsalted variety.
  • Cheese: Chop up your own block of cheddar or simply buy pre-shredded cheese mixes. Cheeses that crumble like feta are delicious and easy, too!
  • Canned flaked salmon or tuna: Simply drain and pile on top.
  • Lentils and beans: You can buy pre-cooked and seasoned beans and lentils in cans at the grocery store or you can cook them at home and season with your own flavours.

Step 4: Salad dressing adds the final boost of flavour and can add some healthy fats to your salad. The healthiest dressings are usually made at home, but you can certainly find some healthy options in grocery stores, too. Look for dressings made with healthy oils like canola and olive that feature herbs and spices as the main flavouring. Compare nutrition labels for sodium (salt) content and choose to buy dressings that have less sodium.

Here’s the salad that I just made for dinner tonight. It took me 20 minutes to put together and I made a second salad to bring to work for lunch tomorrow. Simple as that. Now I’m off to play in the evening sun!

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Carly shows off some fine knife skills as she preps her full-meal-deal salad! Combine these ingredients with a protein source and a dressing and you’ll be back out in the summer sun in no time!

Carly’s full-meal-deal salad



  • 2 cups green lettuce leaves, hand-torn (I had these pre-torn and in my fridge)
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula (store-bought box)
  • 1/4 cup orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp green onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled


  • 1 cup French lentils (green canned lentils work well, too – just make sure to give them a wash)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf

Lemon-Dijon dressing

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice


If you are using canned, cooked lentils, you can skip step 1 but remember to wash the lentils!

  1. In a medium pot, add lentils, bay leaf, garlic powder and water. Bring to a boil. Once the lentils have boiled, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. When they are cooked, the lentils will have absorbed most, if not all, of the cooking water and they will be tender but still holding their shape.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, make your dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.
  3. Prepare your salad greens and veggies. Use whatever types of veggies you have on hand and add as little or as much of them as you like!
  4. When everything is ready, add it to a bowl – you don’t need to put the ingredients in the bowl in any particular order! In my salads, I always put down the leafy greens first then I cover those with my veggies, followed by a mound of lentils. I then sprinkle the top with the green onions and feta cheese. Lastly, I drizzle the salad dressing over the whole thing.
  5. Enjoy!
Carly Phinney

About Carly Phinney

Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.


Rethink your drink: Choosing healthy beverages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The gold standard for hydration? Water!

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

Other good hydrating choices:


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

Tea and coffee

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

Drinks to rethink (choose less often):


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

Fancy coffee

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


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

Vitamin water

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

Energy drinks

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

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

Northern Health’s nutrition team has created these blog posts to promote healthy eating, celebrate Nutrition Month, and give you the tools you need to complete the Eating 9 to 5 challenge! Visit the contest page and complete weekly themed challenges for great prizes including cookbooks, lunch bags, and a Vitamix blender!

Carly Phinney

About Carly Phinney

Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.