Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Prep your meals in bulk so you can get back outside!

Quinoa salad

Lindsay’s Mexican Quinoa Salad is a great option when you want to cook just once and enjoy over and over! Prep once and get back to your summer outdoor adventures!

Oh summer in the north!

I don’t know about you, but as soon as summer hits, it feels like all my weekends and evenings become jam-packed with plans. Plans to bike, hike, and go on adventures somewhere new.

The longer days of summer mean more daylight hours to be doing activities and this definitely reduces the time to prepare dinners and lunches. When life gets busy, bulk meal prep is a must! Not only does meal prep at home save you money, it also encourages greater fruit and vegetable consumption and a higher intake of fibre.

One of my favorite “go-to” meals for summer is a Mexican Quinoa Salad. Anyone who knows me will tell you: I love Mexican spices. Actually, I’m almost obsessed with Mexican spices. I have a standard blend of chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika that I throw into the majority of my meal repertoire. If you’re used to buying taco or fajita seasoning, I am here to tell you that this is no longer needed! You can make your own Mexican spice mix with common spices found right in your own spice cupboard. Check out this taco seasoning recipe.

Ready to get those Mexican spices into a meal that lasts? The salad recipe below will make about 8-10 servings, so feel free to decrease it as needed. It makes a great potluck item, can definitely feed you and your friends for a few meals, is convenient to pack, and will keep well for about three days, refrigerated.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 2 cups quinoa (uncooked)
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • ½ large red onion, or 1 small, diced
  • 2 x 540 ml cans black beans
  • 1 x 341 ml can corn
  • 1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Dressing

  • 3 limes, juice and zest OR 1/3 cup lime juice
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder (domestic, not international chili powder), or to taste
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder

Instructions

  1. Combine 2 cups quinoa and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Set aside and/or refrigerate and allow to cool.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients together in an extra-large bowl.
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in jar or blender, as desired. Pour over salad ingredients and mix well.
  4. 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: Broccoli salad – a versatile recipe!

Broccoli salad

Broccoli salad is easy and versatile! Don’t be afraid to experiment with this recipe – that’s half the fun in cooking!

This long weekend, you may be going to a celebration in the park or camping (like I am!), but no matter what you are doing, you will likely be spending some quality time with friends and family. These events often revolve around food.

Are you are looking for a versatile and easy salad to include in your menu? Look no further than the broccoli salad!

Broccoli salads come in a variety of types and flavours. Maybe you have a favourite? To get you started this long weekend, I’ve included a recipe for you below. However, I’ve tweaked this recipe slightly. The original recipe called for ½ lb of bacon; that’s a lot of bacon! So, in the recipe below, I’ve cut that back. Recipes like this one allow you to get creative! Don’t have green onions? Fine, skip them (I did). Have extra cherry tomatoes in the fridge? Add them in! Don’t be afraid to experiment, that’s half the fun in cooking!

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of broccoli
  • 2 cups of grapes, cut into halves
  • 5 slices of cooked bacon
  • ½ cup celery
  • 3 green onions, diced

Dressing:

  • 1 cup salad dressing
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

Instructions

  1. Chop the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Slice the celery into small pieces.
  3. Crumble or slice the bacon.
  4. Combine the broccoli, celery, grapes, onion and bacon in a large bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the salad dressing, sugar, and vinegar together well.
  6. Pour the dressing on the salad and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.
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: 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: 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

Ingredients:

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

Protein

  • 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

Instructions:

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.

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Crave-worthy Kale with Cashew Cream!

A dark green kale salad with a cashew cream dressing is on a white plate.

This salad is sure to make a kale fan out of even the harshest kale-haters!

You’ve probably seen kale in the spotlight over the past few years with claims that it has nutritional super powers. Are you wondering what all the hype is about?

Kale is often labelled a “super food” because it’s full of good stuff for your body, like vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting anti-oxidants.

Some interesting facts about kale:

  • The calcium it contains is better absorbed than milk! Four-and-a-half cups of raw kale actually provide more calcium than a glass of milk! Kale packs in 435 mg. of calcium vs 322 mg. in one cup of milk. Considering kale wilts down quite a bit when it’s steamed, that’s actually not that much volume.
  • Four-and-a-half cups of raw kale has 10 grams of protein – the same as a standard serving of meat! Plus, it has more iron than steak and a fraction of the calories!
  • Gram for gram, kale has twice the amount of vitamin C than oranges!

This recipe appears on my menu plan at least once a month at home. It’s delicious with baked salmon and brown rice! I have converted non-kale eaters into kale-lovers with it on more than one occasion – my father-in-law even had seconds!

Cashew cream is a super easy, simple, and a delicious non-dairy form of “cream.” It has healthy satisfying fats for your heart and is great for people who are avoiding milk due to intolerance or allergy!

Steamed Kale with Cashew Cream
(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch of kale, washed well
  • 1/2 cup cashews, unsalted and roasted (use sun flower seeds instead if you are worried about nut allergies) *
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp onion powder (or garlic powder)

Directions:

  1. Wash the kale. Holding the tough stalk in your hand, run your hand up the stem to rip off the leaves. This will leave the tough part behind, discard. Rip the leaves into bite sized pieces.
  2. Prepare a pot with 1 inch of water at the bottom. Place a steamer inside the pot and add the ripped leaves. Steam kale over simmering water for about 15 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the kale is steaming, prepare the cashew cream. Add the cashews, water and onion powder into the blender. Blend for about 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  4. Once kale is done, place in a large bowl and coat with cashew cream!

*Optional: For a really smooth cashew cream, soak the cashews in water for about 4 hours or during the day, drain before adding a fresh ½ cup of water. They will bulk up in size and blend nicely. Sunflower seeds should be soaked prior to blending.

What are some of the ways that you use kale?

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: Is your salad dressed to impress?

The ingredients to make a salad dressing.

Everything you need to make a delicious, healthy salad dressing tonight.

A good dressing is the key to bringing your favourite salad creations to life, transforming a salad from OK to yummy! I’ll admit that I use a bottle of store-bought salad dressing once in a while (especially when I’m travelling), but there are many reasons why I prefer to whip up my own:

  • It’s easy! It takes all of two minutes, does not require specialized kitchen gadgets, and you probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboards.
  • It’s flexible! You can create endless variations of flavours at a fraction of the cost of store-bought dressing.
  • It can be healthier because you control the ingredients!

The two main components of a basic salad dressing are acid and oil. If you are in a rush, the acid and the oil will be all you really need, but additional spices can really boost the flavour. Here are some tips to help you make gourmet dressings that are sure to impress:

Choosing your ingredients

  • Acid – Try a variety of vinegars like balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or rice vinegar. Feel free to mix and match your vinegars or try adding a splash of lemon, lime, or freshly squeezed orange juice for a citrus twist.
  • Oil – Choosing neutral-tasting oils such as canola, sunflower, or grape seed will not overpower the other ingredients; however, if you are feeling adventurous, you can go for a more flavourful oil such as sesame, flaxseed, olive, or avocado!
  • Spice – Not only do spices enhance the flavour of your dressing, they also prevent it from separating too quickly. It can be as simple as adding a bit of pepper or you can try a variety of dried or fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, oregano, or thyme. Other options include garlic, mustard (dry or prepared), soya sauce, ginger, or a touch of honey.

Preparing your dressing

  • Ratio – While the traditional salad dressing ratio is three parts oil to one part vinegar, the best ratio depends on your taste. I prefer a zesty dressing with more vinegar than oil. Once you learn the ratio that works for you, you can go ahead and just eyeball it!
  • Mix, Whisk, or Shake – The final step takes some vigorous mixing with a fork or a whisk to blend the oil with the water based acid. A good trick is adding the ingredients directly into a jar or plastic container then just giving it a good shake. This way you can store any leftover dressing in the fridge.

Getting started

Here are some salad dressing ideas to help you get started:

  • Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, lemon juice (optional), canola oil, mustard, pepper.
  • Orange Twist Balsamic Vinaigrette: Balsamic vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest (optional), garlic, pepper, touch of honey.
  • Classic Italian Vinaigrette: White wine or red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, dried basil and/or oregano, and pepper.
  • Zesty Oriental Dressing: Rice wine vinegar, lime juice, canola oil, a bit of sesame oil, a splash of soya sauce, minced cilantro, a touch of honey.

Do you have a favourite salad dressing that you would like to share? Please comment below!

Emilia Moulechkova

About Emilia Moulechkova

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

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