Healthy Living in the North

Eating well at work: what Northern Health staff have to say

Have you ever tried to make a lifestyle change, say tweaking your eating habits, and it didn’t quite work out? My past efforts have taught me that success is more likely to happen when you consider what is needed to make “the healthy choice the easy choice”. I find that different strategies are needed for home, work, and fun.

In recognition of October’s Healthy Workplace Month, I asked a few work colleagues throughout the region to share with me what makes it possible to eat well at work. Here’s what I learned:

 Planning at home can support easy access to your preferred food

I have a morning routine that includes packing a lunch. I also try eat away from my desk. It’s important for me to take a break.”

“I typically bring a week of snacks with me on Monday to save time and take the guess work out of snack planning. Some of my favourites are whole fruit, cut up veggies, homemade muffins or cookies, oatmeal packs, yogurt, cheese cubes, and boiled eggs.”

Supportive work colleagues and spaces make a difference

We plan potlucks a few times a year, with a focus on balancing out dishes to include all four food groups – and we always leave room for dessert!”

“I appreciate that we have a space at work where we can eat together. I really enjoy spending social time with work colleagues catching up, sharing food and recipes, laughing and relaxing.”

“It’s great that we have access to a kitchen to safely store and prepare lunches. It means I am not stuck eating sandwiches every day!”

“We’ve changed the culture at our worksite so that our staff room isn’t the “dumping ground” for people’s unwanted sweets. Years ago, there would be bags and bags of leftover Halloween candy, boxes of Christmas chocolates, or Valentine and Easter treats on the communal table – it was hard to not eat it when it was sitting there. Some days I’d feel sick from eating so much candy. It’s better now because if I want a seasonal treat, I can bring my own or accept one if it’s offered.”

Tasty, healthy, options that anyone will love!

 Management support, whether through policy, resources, or events, really shows that my workplace values my health

Twice a year, our managers host social events for all staff — one is a bbq and the other is a luncheon. There is always a great variety of food.”

“It’s great that we have approachable dietitians at our workplace. I like that they have a flexible approach to what healthy eating is, and they make me feel good about my food choices.”

“My team lead tries to follow the Eat Smart, Meet Smart guidelines when planning our team meetings. This means we have more healthy options to choose from, and we’re more likely to have a fruit bowl instead of a box of doughnuts at meetings these days!”

As you can see, there is a variety of strategies that people feel make healthy eating easier at work. For some additional thinking, check out Marianne’s blog about Workplace celebrations:  More than just food and Beth’s blog about Eating smart at work.

I’d love to hear how your workplace makes it easier for you to eat well!

Flo Sheppard

About Flo Sheppard

Flo has a dual role with Northern Health—she is the NW population health team lead and a regional population health dietitian with a lead in 0 – 6 nutrition. In the latter role, she is passionate about the value of supporting children to develop eating competence through regular family meals and planned snacks. Working full-time and managing a busy home life of extracurricular and volunteer activities can challenge Flo's commitment and practice of family meals but flexibility, conviction, planning and creativity help!

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Eating 9 to 5 Challenge: And the winner is…

Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is pictured.

Congrats to Ross, who won a Vitamix Blender with the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge!

This March was National Nutrition Month and its theme was Eating 9 to 5, which focused on people’s eating habits at the office/work site and their time-strapped schedules around the work day. In support of National Nutrition Month, Northern Health held the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge, which brought four weeks of challenges to northerners who completed tasks for entries into weekly team draws, as well as an individual draw for a Vitamix blender! We truly believe that everyone who took part and experienced a positive change to their eating habits as a result of the Challenge is a winner! Based on the amazing entries that were submitted, a lot of people received a ton of great tips for eating healthier before, during, and after work, and put those tips into action! Before we announce who won prizes, we want to thank everyone who took part and wish everyone good, healthy eats (and drinks) during your 9 to 5, and beyond!

After a brief delay, we’re happy to announce that the grand prize winner of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge is Ross Knudson! Ross took part in the challenge on his own, literally naming his team “Ross Solo” … which is close to the moniker he uses when fighting the Empire. Ross won a Vitamix blender. Congrats, Ross!

We’d also like to congratulate The Northern Healthy Eaters, who took home our Week 1 prize of four Dietitians of Canada cookbooks; Anita, who entered as an individual, winning the Week 2 draw for four Thermos lunch bags; The District Divas, winners of Week 3’s four travel mugs; and, lastly, team We Love Our Pharmacy, who won two fruit/veggie trays for their next meeting!

Throughout all four weeks, we received fantastic entries that showed how serious people were about eating healthy in the workplace, but it was the Creative Challenges that put the biggest smiles on our faces! Here are a few random highlights:

The text "Make Lunch Fun"  surrounds a pencil crayon drawing of several pieces of fruit.

The Crazy Cantaloupes sent in this lovely piece of artwork, which, ironically, does not feature a cantaloupe.

A cupcake and a doughnut say "Eat us! We are so delicious!" to which team The Steamed Veggies respond, "No thanks, meeting snacks! I will just have my apple! I'm good!"

We know cupcakes and doughnuts are unhealthy, but, according to The Steamed Veggies, they’re actually evil! Stick to those apples!

And, without a doubt, the most adorable creative entry goes to The OR Health Freaks who put one of their kids to the test with this food quiz:

Thanks again to everyone who entered the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! Feel free to let us know if any of the tips or challenges helped you make positive changes to your eating habits in the comments below.

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Project Assistant in Health Promotions. He started at Northern Health in October of 2013. Mike grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007, when he moved here to pursue a career in radio. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching sports, reading, and ice fishing. His favourite thing about the north is the slower pace of life and the fact that he no longer has to worry about traffic every morning.

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Foodie Friday: Workplace potlucks

Various dishes on a table.

How do you ensure that your potlucks are healthy potlucks?

Northern Health promotes teamwork and a sense of community in the workplace. In keeping with this vision, weeks can sometimes get busy with team meetings, events or gatherings. Often, these occur over the lunch hour – a time that tends to fit best into everyone’s busy schedules.

Because this means that we are often eating lunch with our coworkers, workplace potlucks are a popular choice for meetings and gatherings. These situations can, however, sometimes make healthy eating a challenge!

Here are some tips to ensure your next workplace potluck is a healthy workplace potluck!

  • Skip the sweets and desserts at events. Enjoy fresh fruit instead!
  • Follow the plate method and aim to fill half your plate with vegetables.
  • Have a sign-up sheet for potlucks with spots to fill under the four food groups. This makes sure there will always be balanced options!
  • Make sure to bring something healthy and tasty that you know you like – that way you can be sure of at least one healthy choice!

Try preparing some Mexican Quinoa Bites for a quick and easy potluck item!

Mexican Quinoa Bites

Recipe from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup black beans, cooked
  • ¼ cup avocado, smashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup corn kernels, cooked
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ⅓ cup ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup low-fat Mexican shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Rinse quinoa and cook according to package directions. Let cool slightly.
  3. Combine beans, avocado, peppers, corn and onion in a small bowl and mix well.
  4. Add spices and stir to combine.
  5. Add cooked quinoa, egg, ground pepitas, and cheese. Mix well.
  6. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray and spoon in quinoa mixture.
  7. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Gently remove from pan. Serve with salsa.
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!

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Workplace celebrations: More than just food

Tea, mugs, and teapot on a table.

Next time your coworker has a birthday or your team completes a major project, celebrate with a tea party instead of the typical treats! When it comes to workplace celebrations, get healthy by getting creative!

From holidays to birthdays, milestones, and achievements, there are plenty of reasons to get together with your coworkers for celebration. It’s great to take those moments to celebrate together. They often provide an opportunity to become a more closely knit team and forget about the stresses of everyday tasks. Often, workplace celebrations are centred on food: birthday cake, Christmas cookies, and other less nutritious treats. And while occasional treats are definitely a part of healthy eating, when they happen too frequently, they can impact our health and productivity in the workplace.

Many of us spend at least ⅓ of our day at work so having a work environment where making the healthy choice the easy choice is important. Since celebrations are social events and great opportunities for team building, it can be hard to decline when offered a cookie or other treat. Some people may feel pressure to take the item in order not to offend anyone or to fit in with the group. Having alternate ways of celebrating and including everyone takes the stress out of the situation for many.

Next time you and your workmates are planning a celebration, why not consider mixing it up with some fun non-food activities or trying some strategies to encourage healthy food celebrations? Here are 10 creative ideas to get you started:

  1. Keep cake a treat. Instead of celebrating with a cake for everyone’s birthday, why not have monthly or seasonal birthday celebrations?
  2. Consider alternative birthday celebrations. Give cards signed by coworkers or have a fun birthday object that the birthday staff member keeps for the day. It could be a pin, sash, hat, or other unique object!
  3. Have a pumpkin carving contest for Halloween.
  4. Hold a decorating contest. Decorate office doors or windows individually or in teams.
  5. Choose to sponsor a local charity.
  6. Plan a group activity. Rent the ice rink, have a bowling tournament, or try rock climbing.
  7. Choose restaurants that offer healthier menu choices. Check out Informed Dining for locations that provide nutritional information.
  8. Ask your caterer to make 80% of the choices healthier options, with 20% being treat food.
  9. Try a healthy theme for office potlucks. Choose a theme that encourages vegetable, fruit, and whole grain options, such as red and green vegetables for Christmas, or a soup and salad bar. Remember to create a sign-up list to ensure variety. List categories of foods and don’t forget extras like cutlery, napkins, or beverages.
  10. Instead of a meal, host an afternoon tea party. Coworkers can bring in their favourite teas to share. Don’t forget to bring your favourite mug, too!

For more information on creating healthy eating environments in the workplace, check out the Eat Smart Meet Smart guide and the Healthier Choices in Vending Machines policy page.


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!

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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Eating smart at work

Platter of sandwiches

Meetings, conferences, and gatherings often include catered lunches, sweet beverages, and snack breaks. Follow the Eat Smart Meet Smart guidelines to make your next meeting a healthy one!

I read somewhere that the average full-time worker spends 2,000 or more hours at work each year. That’s almost 25% of our time!

And if you’re like many of us in this modern-day work environment, your day is filled with meetings and conferences and, most of the time, these events include helping after helping of pastries and cookies, buffet-style lunches, coffee, and sugar-sweetened beverages. These are normally OK as treats every once in a while, but eaten day after day, these foods take a toll on your health.

If you’re not prepared, your healthy eating goals can suffer – think “fail to plan, plan to fail” – because these types of meeting and catering foods replace the healthier ones you may have brought from home. And these foods drain your energy levels leaving you sluggish and less productive with your work. They may even sabotage your physical activity goals, to boot!

To avoid this, the next time you have a meeting or all-day conference, check out Eat Smart Meet Smart. This guide can help you plan and host healthy meetings and conferences in the workplace. It covers a range of gatherings and includes tips for short meetings and menus for all-day events.

You can be the boss of your nutrition with this guide! Work with your favorite caterer to find options that are prepared with less salt, fat and sugar, and that will keep you focused, energized and healthy.

Yogurt parfait in a jar.

Swap the pastries, donuts, and sweets at your next morning meeting for DIY yogurt parfaits with fruit, granola, and nuts!

Here are some ideas to get you started on healthy eating at your next meeting or conference:

  • Ask for pitchers of water on each table to keep everyone hydrated and focused.
  • Order lighter lunches that include salads alongside whole grain sandwiches or wraps that are filled with vegetables and lean protein such as chicken, eggs, legumes or cheese.
  • Offer fruit rather than traditional sweets for dessert.
  • Consider taking an activity break rather than serving food. Sometimes people eat just because the food is offered rather than because they are hungry and this can lead to overeating.

My favorite snack for morning meetings is fruit and yogurt parfaits where there is a selection of low-fat yogurt, an assortment of sliced fruit, chopped almonds or other unsalted nuts, and some low-fat granola. For a great granola recipe check out dietitian Carly Phinney’s recent Foodie Friday Blog.

Do you have any tips for an Eat Smart Meet Smart meeting or conference?


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!

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.

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Defend against vending machine temptation

Vending machine

This vending machine is double trouble with salty and sugary treats as well as sugar-filled beverages. Do you have a machine like this in your workplace? Use the Healthier Choices in Vending Machines in BC Public Buildings guide to become a vending machine crusader!

Vending machines – they can be pretty tempting things. With their bright colours, blinking lights, and palatable treats, they can be hard to resist even if you aren’t feeling hunger pangs. Just think of the small child at the local hockey arena, begging their mom or dad for a chocolate bar or bag of chips after skating lessons. Clearly, just the sight of salty and sweet treats can be enough to make us want to part with whatever change is in our pockets! And they show up in the most random places! I was at my vet’s office just the other day and they had a vending machine in the corner! No wonder it can be hard to make healthy choices when vending machine temptation is so often staring you in the face.

In a perfect world, we would always have a healthy snack stashed away in our desk or bag to tide us over until our next meal so we wouldn’t have to turn to the vending machine. But our lives aren’t perfect and sometimes we find ourselves without any other options but what is available to purchase. In those situations, how can we navigate the world of vending machines to make healthier choices?

It can be hard to know exactly what you are getting when you put those coins into a vending machine. Unlike at the store, you can’t pick up the package and read the nutrition label. You can only compare products based on the front of the package and what you might already know about that snack or beverage. If you’re lucky, you might have access to machines that stock fresh options like fruit, vegetables, yogurt, or tuna and cracker snack packs. But if you’re faced with a more traditional machine, look for the least processed items like packages of peanuts, trail mix, dried fruit, or granola bars made with these ingredients.

And did you know that B.C. has established guidelines for healthier choices in vending machines that are in buildings owned, leased, or occupied by provincial public bodies? This means that in these places you will find items lower in sugar, salt, and fat, and higher in essential nutrients. Take a peek through the glass at the offerings in your workplace’s vending machines and see if they meet the guidelines. If not, why not see if you can get them implemented? You could become the office vending machine crusader!

For more tips on defending against vending machine temptation, check out this short video from Dietitians of Canada – and remember to keep checking back on the Northern Health Matters blog for more great posts to help you make healthy choices all Nutrition Month long!


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!

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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Snacking smart

Strawberries and trail mix.

Aim for one to two food groups in each healthy snack! Unlike a treat (best saved for occasional enjoyment), a snack should provide nourishment and energy to fuel your brain and workday activities!

So, what makes a healthy snack? What is a snack anyway? Did you know that there’s a big difference between a snack and a treat? Treats like sugar-laden cookies, granola bars, chocolate, or salty chips and cheezies are low in nutrients and best saved for occasional enjoyment. Smart snacking, on the other hand, involves planning for the day and keeping healthy choices on hand. Here are some of my smart snacking suggestions!

When I’m hungry two or three hours after breakfast, I grab my homemade pumpkin muffin and yogurt for coffee breaks. When I approach the midday slump and want a coffee or a nap, I unpeel my orange and sip on rooibos tea in the cafeteria or walk down the hall to clear my brain and get refreshed until dinner time.

A snack can be as little or as big as you want, but a healthy snack is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients, fluids and fibre to help us meet our daily quotient. A sustaining snack will provide carbohydrates to fuel your brain and activity level and some protein for longer-lasting energy and blood sugar stabilization. To do this, try to include one to two food groups in your snack.

I suggest picking one carbohydrate food (grain, fruit, or milk) and one protein choice (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, nuts, or legumes) to make a nutritious snack. For times when you just need a little pick me up, then either a small fruit or yogurt will do until your next meal. I also recommend keeping healthy snacks in your vehicle for when you spend a busy day in town or go on a long drive to visit family or friends and start craving sugar. I always keep a container of trail mix and a box of sesame seed snaps in my car because they don’t freeze in the winter or melt in the summer. Keep water bottles and 100% juice boxes in the trunk for emergency fluid needs!

Roasted chickpeas and raspberries

Smart snacking is portion-controlled and contributes key nutrients! Try some crunchy roasted chickpeas and a handful of fruit next time you feel that midday slump coming on!

Looking for more snack inspiration? Why not try one of Dietitians of Canada top 10 smart snacks!

  • Whole grain crackers with hardboiled egg
  • Handful of grapes and cheese
  • Veggie sticks with hummus
  • Apple slices and a chunk of cheese
  • Fresh fruit and yogurt
  • 2-4 tbsp nuts with dried apricots
  • Snap peas and black bean dip
  • Banana smeared with natural peanut butter
  • Crunchy roasted lentils or beans and green tea
  • Whole grain muffin and cottage cheese

What’s your favourite snack?


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!

Melanie Chapple

About Melanie Chapple

Melanie works as a clinical dietitian in Primary health care in Fort St. John. After completing her dietetic internship in Vancouver, she fulfilled her desire to move up north in 2006 because of the rich opportunity to gain experience working in all practice settings as a full-time dietitian. Melanie has a passion for food and nutrition, specifically baking, eating healthy snacks and sharing recipes with her clients and coworkers. In her spare time, you may see Melanie cycling through the Peace region, walking, or pulling her kids on a sled during the six months of snow.

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Foodie Friday: Avoiding lunch hour diet derailment

Sweet potato with tuna salad and greek yogurt.

Looking for a healthy lunch idea for the workplace? Bake a sweet potato and top with tuna salad for a delicious dinner and lunch the next day! Cook once and enjoy twice!

It’s been two and a half months since you promised yourself a healthier 2015, but have you managed to stick to your goals? One of the most common points of diet derailment (and remember that Northern Health defines “diet” as your eating habits and not as a weight loss regimen, which is a different usage of the term!) is lunch hour at the office. Potlucks, cafeteria offerings, and nearby fast-food temptations are luring you far away from your sandwich and even further away from your goal of having a healthy workweek. Here are some tips to help keep you on track:

  1. Plan ahead: Making a weekly grocery list is key to staying on track with healthy eating! Whether you’ve planned out specific lunches or not, make sure you pick up some lunch-friendly foods so when you’re in a crunch the night before work, you have some ingredients on hand. For example, if you like sandwiches, make sure you’re stocked up on whole grain bread and your favourite fillings for the week. Another tip, never leave making your lunch to the morning.
  2. Make it convenient: Batch cooking on the weekend is probably one of the most convenient ways to make sure you have healthy lunches for the week. It’s also a great way to try out a new recipe. Prepare a recipe that serves 4-6 people and portion it into Tupperware containers. If you’re like me and don’t mind eating leftovers, you’ll have lunch for the week. If you like a bit more variety, save a couple portions for the week and put the rest in the freezer. Another convenient strategy is to always make an extra portion of supper for lunch the next day. Just make sure you plan ahead and work these extra portions into your grocery list!
  3. Choose a lunch you like: Sounds obvious, right? Don’t get stuck in the PB&J grind! If you make yourself a boring lunch, of course you’ll be tempted by less healthy options. Make yourself a lunch you’ll look forward to. One of my favourite lunches is Sweet Potato with Tuna Salad (recipe below). I usually make it the night before and eat one portion for supper and pack the other portion for the next day. Hope you enjoy!

Sweet Potato with Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato (enough for two servings)
  • 1 can of skipjack tuna in water
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 heaping tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 lime wedges
  • Handful fresh cilantro or parsley

Instructions:

  1. Pierce skin of sweet potato all over. Bake sweet potato at 350 F for 45 minutes or until soft in the middle when pierced with a fork. Baking time will depend on the size of the potato. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, drain tuna and mix with mayonnaise and curry powder in a small bowl.
  3. Cut cooked sweet potato in half lengthwise. Mash the flesh with a fork to form a little dip in which to sit the tuna.
  4. Divide the tuna between the two sweet potato halves.
  5. Place a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of each half. Season with cracked pepper and a squeeze of lime. Sprinkle cilantro or parsley on top.
  6. Enjoy!
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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Localize your lunch

Frozen berries, preserved produce, deer chops, and squash on a counter.

Adding local food like deer chops, squash, berries, or beets depends on where you live and a few other factors but there are some preservation tips and seasonal produce that can keep you lunching local all year round!

There’s something neat about eating local food. Somehow food that you have grown, fished, hunted, gathered, or gotten from someone you know is just … better.

But why does it seem better? Pop quiz!

  1. Do you feel a sense of pride and self-reliance in growing, getting or “putting up” your own food?
  2. Do you feel local food is somehow more real, more nourishing, and more satisfying?
  3. Do you value food travelling fewer “food miles”?
  4. Are you pumped about supporting your local producers and community members?
  5. Do you appreciate knowing where your food comes from?
  6. Do you enjoy the social aspects of local food and the learning that is shared?
  7. All of the above.

For me, it’s “all of the above,” but if you answered “yes” to any of these questions, that sounds like a good enough reason to include some local yumminess in your lunches!

How can we pack local foods into our lunch bags? What we have available to us depends on many variables: where we live, our personal connections, our food storage equipment, and our skills and knowledge.

Here are a few ideas from my own kitchen in Terrace:

  • My favourite lunch is simply leftovers from dinner (I mean, if I’m going to cook a great meal, I better get a couple meals out of it, right?). At this time of year, we are working through the last of our local food supplies so dinner, and therefore lunch, might include Haida Gwaii deer, Remo Harvest potatoes (maybe garlic mashed potatoes?), and home canned beets (topped with no-so-local feta cheese and olive oil).
  • There are still a couple of squashes on my counter, and while their fate is not yet sealed, I suspect they will make an appearance in a future lunch in the form of a creamy squash soup or spiced squash muffins.
  • The cherries and berries in my freezer might be reincarnated into a fruit crisp that would make a nice mid-morning snack at work.
  • There’s still a wee bit of jarred salmon that might be nice to have on crackers – an easy snack or lunch to pack when I’m hastily scrambling to work.

Oh, dear! All this writing about food is making me hungry! Better go take a peek at what I’ve got in my lunch today! I hope there’s something local in there!

For more ideas and inspiration, consider checking out the following resources:


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!

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.

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Eating 9 to 5: Highlights, Week 1 winners, and taking on lunch during Week 2!

We had some great entries into Week 1 of the Eating 9 to 5 Challenge! In total, 29 team and individual entries made it into the first draw, with the Northern Healthy Eaters taking home the first week’s prize of 4 Dietitians of Canada cookbooks! We’ll get to some Week 1 highlights in just a sec, but first, if you haven’t downloaded the Week 2: Lunch Challenge Sheet, get on it! We want to hear about your leftovers, your soups and sandwiches, and whatever else you and/or your team bring to the office every day as a midday meal, as well as how you make that meal healthy! To enter the draw for the Week 2 prize of 4 Thermos lunch bags, you need to have your sheet submitted by March 15, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. Remember, you can still enter to win the individual grand prize draw for the Vitamix blender by completing all four Challenge Sheets.

So, how did Week 1 go (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is awesome!)? Check out some of the highlights below!

From our Breakfast Recipe Challenge:

A banana is cut to look like a dolphin.

This might not be the quickest meal for during the week, but it’ll definitely entertain the kids!

If you’ve ever wondered how to turn a banana into a dolphin (and who hasn’t?!?), then here’s how you make this masterpiece:

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup granola
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt

Instructions

“Cut 2 inches off the stem end of the banana, leaving the skin and stem on, cutting at an angle so that the end you have cut off sits on the plate like a dolphin’s head coming out of the water. Cut the very end of the stem off leaving the rest for the dolphin’s nose, and cut it from the end towards the base of the stem to make the dolphin’s mouth. Insert a large blueberry into the cut opening. Peel the rest of the banana and slice off just a bit of the outside of the curve so that the banana will sit firmly on the plate, and then cut a angled groove along the length of the banana to make a channel for the yogurt to be added. Add enough yogurt to overfill the groove. Add blueberries on top of the yogurt running the length of the groove. Pile the remaining yogurt on the side of the plate and sprinkle the rest of the blueberries around the plate and on the pile of remaining yogurt. Then sprinkle ½ of the granola over the blueberries and yogurt. Sprinkle the remaining granola around the plate for garnish! The kids will love this delicious and nutritious breakfast, and so will the kid in you!!!” Thanks to team As Healthy As Reasonably Achievable (AHARA) for that!

The tips from our Did You Know… Challenge about saving time in the mornings were pretty unanimous: get your breakfast, lunch, and even clothing choices ready the night before to make for a smooth morning!

In the Creative Challenge, we got a ton of great poems, drawings, and more. Here are a couple examples:

Poems:

An Ode to Muffins

Muffins muffins muffins,

Who doesn’t love muffins

Whole grain’er, no brainer!

Flax, fill to the max!

Pumpkin chai, oh my!

Berries and Seeds, yes please!!

 

Breakfast For a Good Day

Wholewheat bread and farm-fresh eggs,

Oranges and apples too.

Oatmeal, yogurt and bananas,

Are all good for you.

Don’t eat too much,

Don’t eat too late.

Control your portions,

With a smaller plate.

A protein portion in your food,

Will help to fuel a cheery mood.

A nutritious breakfast is the way,

To lift your spirits for the day!

Drawings

A drawing of an orange titled "Le Orange."

“Le Orange”

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

A great drawing of a dragon fruit!

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

Another stellar drawing of dragon fruit.

...and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

…and yet another dynamite dragon fruit!

And more…

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) - get it? So clever!

Breakfast: OJ (like the juice), X (as in eggs), and toast (with a glass) – get it? So clever!

Four women have smeared peanut butter under their eyes like war paint.

The Peanut Butter Warriors are ready for battle (yes, that’s peanut butter under their eyes)!

Thanks to all the teams who took part in Week 1! We can’t wait to see what you do for Week 2!

Mike Erickson

About Mike Erickson

Mike Erickson is the Project Assistant in Health Promotions. He started at Northern Health in October of 2013. Mike grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007, when he moved here to pursue a career in radio. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching sports, reading, and ice fishing. His favourite thing about the north is the slower pace of life and the fact that he no longer has to worry about traffic every morning.

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