Healthy Living in the North

Quality counts! 3 tips for Nutrition Month

Last week, dietitians Marianne & Rebecca provided some tips to get you ready for a 100 meal journey.

Did you have the chance to think about what your small, nourishing changes could be?

If you’re still looking for positive, easy changes to make to your eating habits, for Week 2 of Nutrition Month, we suggest looking at quality! Get clever with your cooking, swap in nutrient-rich choices to stay energized, and more!

Here are Rebecca & Marianne’s favourite tips for this week.

Berry smoothie

What small steps can you take to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks? How about a super smoothie for breakfast?

Tip #1: Jump-start your day! Power through your morning by eating a good breakfast.

A nourishing breakfast gives you a fuel boost plus protein and fibre to help you stay alert and avoid mid-morning munchies.

In a hurry?

  • Blend frozen berries, yogurt and milk for a super smoothie. Make it even better with baby spinach and ground flax.
  • Wrap peanut butter, a banana and trail mix in a whole-grain tortilla for a portable, crunchy breakfast.

Have time?

  • Make a burrito with scrambled egg, lentils or soft tofu, sautéed red pepper, avocado and salsa wrapped in a warm tortilla.
  • Top French toast with yogurt, sunflower seeds and warm sautéed apple slices.

For more breakfast inspiration, visit Cookspiration.

Plate of roasted sweet potatoes

Don’t think of them as leftovers – think of them as “planned extras”! Are you roasting sweet potatoes for dinner? Add a few more and layer them on whole-grain bread for a delicious and nutritious lunch!

Tip #2: Forget the food court! Pack good food fast with “planned extra” leftovers for lunch.

Packing lunch is a healthy, budget-friendly habit. Keep it simple: reinvent “planned extra” leftovers for a lunch that’s way better than the food court. Try these tasty ideas:

  • Cook extra chicken for dinner. For lunch, wrap chicken in soft tacos, with crunchy cabbage and shredded carrots, a sprinkle of feta and big squeeze of juicy lime.
  • Roast extra root veggies. Layer them on crusty whole grain bread with hummus and baby spinach for a scrumptious sandwich.
  • Toss extra cooked whole wheat pasta, couscous or barley with pesto, cherry tomatoes, lentils and small cheese chunks for a protein-packed salad.

The Dietitians of Canada have lots of creative ways to cook with leftovers.

Tip #3: Clever cooking! Flavour food with tangy citrus, fresh herbs and fragrant spices.

There are lots of simple ways to cook healthy without sacrificing taste. Try these tips to add flavour to meals:

  • Add pizzazz to plain grains and pulses by cooking barley, brown rice or lentils in low-sodium broth.
  • Stir ½ to 1 cup of canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato into muffin batter for a veggie boost.
  • Make a luscious mashed potato with roasted garlic, a little olive oil and warm milk.
  • Purée vegetable soups, such as potato, sweet potato or broccoli, with low-sodium broth for deliciously creamy texture and taste.

For delicious recipes with a healthy twist, visit Healthy Families BC.

What small steps can you take to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks?

These tips are adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month and join other Canadians on a 100 Meal Journey at

Vince Terstappen

About Vince Terstappen

Vince Terstappen is a Project Assistant with the health promotions team at Northern Health. He has an undergraduate and graduate degree in the area of community health and is passionate about upstream population health issues. Born and raised in Calgary, Vince lived, studied, and worked in Saskatoon, Victoria, and Vancouver before moving to Vanderhoof in 2012. When not cooking or baking, he enjoys speedskating, gardening, playing soccer, attending local community events, and Skyping with his old community health classmates who are scattered across the world. Vince works with Northern Health program areas to share healthy living stories and tips through the blog and moderates all comments for the Northern Health Matters blog. (Vince no longer works with Northern Health, we wish him all the best.)


Foodie Friday: Packing school lunches: Part 2

Apple, plums, cheese slices, muffin, leftover dinner, almonds, vegetables, and yogurt in containers.

Curious as to what a dietitian packs for her own lunch? Lise loves variety in her lunch but may not get through all of this during her workday. She’ll listen to her stomach and see what she needs!

Are you worried that your kid doesn’t eat enough at school? Does most of their lunch come back home at the end of the day? Is your kid so hungry after school that they are ready to have a meltdown? What to do??

In a recent blog post, we were inspired with some school lunch ideas. The Division of Responsibility in Feeding can help us here, too, by outlining parents’ jobs with feeding and kids’ jobs with eating.

Parents are responsible for deciding what foods are offered at meal and snack times, so it is up to you to decide what to include in the daily lunch bag.

As they get older, you can involve your kids in packing their own lunches by giving them some choices, such as: “For your fruit today, do you want an apple or a banana?” or “For your milk product, do you want yogurt or cheese slices?”

Your teen will eventually be able to take over the job of packing lunch, although you can still check in: “Did you pack food from 3 or 4 food groups?” and “Did you pack your water bottle?”

Once the lunch is packed and off to school, your job is done!

The Division of Responsibility in Feeding includes jobs for kids, too. It is up to your kid to decide in what order they will eat their food items or how much of each particular item they will eat. Your kid’s appetite can change from day to day; by listening to their body’s “hungry” and “full” messages, they know how much to eat.

As an aside, many schools have changed their lunch hour so that play time occurs before eating time. This is called “Play First Lunch” and school staff find that kids are more focused on eating their lunch, are better behaved and are more prepared to learn.

If there is no afternoon snack at school, your kid will benefit from a sit-down snack after school. Make this available every day, regardless of how much they have eaten for their lunch. As with packing lunch, you are responsible for deciding what to offer for this snack. As your kids get older, they can start to manage this snack with your guidance, such as “Choose foods from 2 food groups” and “Sit at the table for your snack.”

Curious as to what a dietitian packs for her own lunch? The photo above is one example: leftover spaghetti squash with meat and veggie sauce, an apple, 2 small plums, snap peas & carrots, blueberry yogurt, cheddar cheese slices, a homemade fruit muffin and almonds. I love a lot of variety in my lunch, although I may not get through all of this during my workday – I’ll listen to my tummy and see what I need!

The recipe below is my “master fruit muffin recipe,” but I often modify the ingredients. I might swap the ratio of banana to apples, or use a plum or pear sauce instead of applesauce. In terms of flour, sometimes I use only whole wheat flour or only white flour, while at other times I throw in some oats or bran. Sometimes I add cinnamon, ginger or other spices. It all depends on what I have available in my kitchen at the time and what I am in the mood for.

Lise’s Master Fruit Muffin Recipe

Makes 12 muffins

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Wet ingredients

  • 1½ cup overripe banana
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare muffin tins.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl.
  4. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just moist, quickly spoon into muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes.

These fruit muffins are quite moist, and so are best eaten within a day or two. Alternatively, double the batch and freeze the muffins for future lunches and snacks.

Lise Luppens

About Lise Luppens

Lise is a registered dietitian with Northern Health's regional Population Health Nutrition team. Her work focuses on nutrition in the early years, and she is passionate about supporting children's innate eating capabilities and the development of lifelong eating competence. She loves food! You are likely to find her gathering and preserving local food, or exploring beautiful northwest BC on foot, bike, ski, kayak, or kite.


Foodie Friday: Keeping lunches fun for back to school

Two kids and two adults packing lunch in the kitchen

If your kids help to pack their own lunch or help with the grocery shopping, they’re much more likely to eat it! Mix and match protein, fruit and vegetables, a carbohydrate, and some fat for a great, nutritious lunch.

Whether you love having your kids home for summer or are looking forward to the start of school, most parents find making lunches a bit of a chore. Without fresh ideas, lunches can get a bit repetitive and pretty soon your child is bringing home the majority of what you sent with them.

So what can you do?

First, involve your child in making their lunch! You are likely to get more buy-in and your kids are more likely to eat their lunch if they help with making it or with the grocery shopping for the ingredients.

Making sure you have everything on hand saves a lot of time, too. You may need ice packs to keep items cold, enough reusable containers for the foods you want to send, and a water bottle for sending water to drink. If you have extra food at supper, packing it up into lunch-sized portions right after supper saves time and makes lunch prep easy!

Lunch kit with tomatos, egg, water bottle, plum, granola bar, and yogurt.

Rebecca’s lunch includes cheese, yogurt, tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, plum, granola bar, and more! What about yours? Don’t forget your water bottle, ice pack, and containers!

Need some inspiration for ideas? Here are some tried and true ideas to mix and match.

  • Sandwich, wrap, roti or pita stuffed with meat, cheese, egg, tuna, peanut butter*, jam, vegetables and/or hummus.
  • Chili, stew, perogies, soup, samosas, pasta salad
  • Dinner leftovers (look for a meat (chicken, fish, pork) or alternative; vegetable; and grain, potato, or pasta)
  • Waffles/pancakes or muffin
  • Cereal and milk
  • Quiche; scrambled or hard-boiled eggs
  • Cracker and cheese; tortilla
  • Yogurt and granola
  • Kebabs (meat, cheese, vegetable)

If you base a lunch around including a source of protein, a fruit and/or vegetable, a carbohydrate, and some fat, you will have made a great, nutritious lunch!

For school snack ideas visit Nutrition 411.

*Due to allergies, some schools do not allow peanut butter. Alternatives such as Wowbutter® may be allowed.

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.


Make school lunches nutritious, delicious, and fun!

Mother and daughter making scrambled eggs.

Make school lunches a family affair! Even young kids can take on tasks like washing fruit, filling water bottles, and packing lunch bags!

Summer is coming to an end, which means it’s back-to-school time for families across northern B.C. Getting back into school routines often means busy schedules! Fuelling those busy days can be challenging, but there are some easy things you can do to make back-to-school lunches nutritious, delicious, and fun this year.

Follow these five simple steps for stress-free mornings and happy tummies throughout the day.

  1. Be prepared. The Boy Scouts knew what they were talking about! Taking some time during your evenings or weekends to get prepared makes busy weekday mornings a breeze. Plan meals, chop vegetables, bake muffins, or batch-cook something tasty (like soup or chili) to eat throughout the week. Check out Holly’s post for some great lunch prep ideas!
  2. Get the tools. Make sure you have a variety of reusable containers, including cutlery and drink containers, so that no matter what you pack for lunch, you’ll have something to put it in. An insulated lunch bag and a food Thermos are both great investments, too.
  3. Make it a family affair. Get the kids involved in prep! Even young kids can wash fruit, fill water bottles, and pack their lunch bags. And make sure to involve your kids in planning their lunch, like asking whether they want carrot sticks or celery. Offering them a choice means they are more likely to eat those healthy foods. There’s lots of inspiration for preparing food as a family on the Northern Health Matters blog, like Emilia’s tips for age-appropriate ways to include kids in cooking.
  4. Seek out healthy helpers. Save time with some pre-prepared nutritious items like washed and bagged salad greens, baby carrots, unsweetened applesauce cups, individual cheese portions, and yogurt cups.
  5. Think beyond the sandwich bread. While sandwiches are definitely a lunchtime favourite for many, it can be fun to switch it up. Instead of bread, try wraps or pita pockets. Or skip the sandwich and try a pasta salad, soup, crackers and cheese, or even last night’s leftovers.

Looking for a little lunch inspiration? Try this easy pasta salad recipe! You can get the kids involved, prep it the night before, and break out of the sandwich rut. Sounds like a win for healthy school lunches!

Chicken Pasta Salad

Adapted from

Serves 4


  • 3 ½ cups cooked whole wheat pasta (such as rotini, penne, or macaroni)
  • 1 ½ cups diced cooked chicken
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • ¼ cup of your favourite salad dressing (such as Italian, caesar, or balsamic)


  1. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, chicken, carrot, cucumber.
  2. Drizzle with salad dressing and mix to combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days.

To switch things up, try replacing the chicken with shrimp, ham, chickpeas, or tofu. Try out different vegetables, too, like broccoli, peppers, peas, or corn.

For more inspiration, check out our Foodie Friday posts!

A version of this article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of A Healthier You magazine.

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.


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 Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.


Unpack your snacks!

Reusable water bottle, lunch bag, and containers on a table.

Can you spot the spork? How do you reduce waste in your lunches, sips, and snacks?

Waste created from food is not a new topic. I’ve been learning about how to be more environmentally friendly since I was a child. I grew up with curbside recycling, we had compost bins in our school lunch rooms and I even buy local when possible, but is that good enough? Nowadays our food comes with so much packaging that it can be hard to avoid. So what’s a concerned citizen to do?

When I have questions like these, I take them to the experts at the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT), located in northeast B.C. Karen Mason-Bennett is a program coordinator there and is a wealth of information on all things green!

So why is food packaging is such a problem? According to Karen, it isn’t just the fact that we are creating waste when we eat a packaged food. It also takes a lot of energy to make and ship the packaging before it’s ever used. Not to mention all of the human energy (labour) involved and the fact that many single serving portions tend to require a larger package as well – think individually-wrapped granola bars in a cardboard box!

All of this packaging exists for a reason, however – our own desire for convenience. The demand for these products has gone up as many more people are choosing prepackaged snacks out of convenience and the desire for portion control. We want more value for our time, and being able to spend less time preparing and packing our food is something we’re willing to pay for. Food packaging is also used in some cases to extend the shelf life of a product. For example, cucumbers that are shrink-wrapped in plastic are said to last 20% longer.

An eye-opening exercise to try the next time you go grocery shopping is to remove all of the “extra” packaging from your food as you put grocery items away in your home. How much packaging does it take just to get the food from the shelf to your home? You’ll likely end up with a stack of cardboard boxes and a bundle of plastic wrapping that were completely unnecessary.

But there are easy ways to cut down on this waste! As a mom of 3, Karen is a pro at packing lunches! Here are some of her tips on how to cut back your snack and lunch food waste:

  • Invest in reusable containers in a variety of sizes – then actually use them!
  • Buy packaged products in larger containers and then portion them into your own reusable smaller containers at home.
  • Snack on whole foods – nature has its own packaging!
  • Make leftover suppers into tomorrow’s lunch by packing these in reheatable containers.
  • Can your own preserves like peaches and applesauce in single serving jars.
  • Set a rule for yourself or for children – only one disposable item per lunch.

The important thing Karen wants you to remember is that “being green” is not a destination, it’s a journey. Some packaging is unavoidable, but making small changes in the food products you’re choosing can have a bigger impact. Every item that you reuse one extra time cuts that portion your waste by 50%. Let continual improvement be your goal, rather than environmental sainthood!

For more information on how to reduce your food waste, or to find answers to your burning environmental questions visit NEAT, The Story of Stuff, or Multi Material BC.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.


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


  • 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


  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.


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 is a registered dietitian with Northern Health's regional Population Health Nutrition team. Her work focuses on nutrition in the early years, and she is passionate about supporting children's innate eating capabilities and the development of lifelong eating competence. She loves food! You are likely to find her gathering and preserving local food, or exploring beautiful northwest BC on foot, bike, ski, kayak, or kite.


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:


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


“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:


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!


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 Communications Specialist, Content Development and Engagement at Northern Health, and has been with the organization since 2013. He grew up in the Lower Mainland and has called Prince George home since 2007. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and family, sports, reading, movies, and generally nerding out. He loves the slower pace of life and lack of traffic in the North.


Grab the good stuff when eating out for lunch

Wrap and side salad on a plate.

Going out for lunch doesn’t have to mean greasy burgers and salty fries! From tasting the rainbow to nixing the combo, Anita shares some great tips for healthy restaurant and takeout lunches.

Eating out is a treat, so you figure why not go for that juicy burger with extra fries or that cheesy meat-lovers pizza? You’ll eat vegetables later, right? But what if you’re not a brown-bagger and eat out for lunch more often? Added sugar, fat, and salt are abundant in restaurant and takeout offerings, lurking even in the non-greasy food options. Unfortunately, you can’t control what options there are to choose from. You can, however, control what you choose.

So, how do you make health-positive choices when eating out for lunch? Step one: keep reading!

Taste the rainbow!

  • Head for the colourful line of fresh veggies at your favourite wrap, sandwich, or pita place and load up.
  • Pick a side of delightful greens instead of something beige.

Don’t get sauced!

  • Request no sauce, half sauce, or sauce on the side.
  • Try out a tasty vinaigrette dressing instead of a creamy one.

Nix the combo!

  • Fast food can be loaded with added sugar, salt, and fat, so give your metabolism a break and skip the sugary drink and extra side or dessert.
  • If you’re parched, try unsweetened iced tea or refreshing water.

Fibre is your friend!

  • Mix it up a little and choose whole grain options instead of white flour concoctions.
  • Fibre is the hero of any meal – it keeps you fuller for longer, helps lower cholesterol, and keeps your gut healthy.

Meatless Monday Midday Meal

  • Save the meat for dinner and try a vegetarian option for lunch – in addition to tasting the rainbow, you may see improvements to your wallet, too!
  • If your favourite lunch spot is low on vegetarian options, why not suggest they offer more and see what they come up with?

Get the down-low!

  • Find out just how much fat, calories, sodium, sugar, etc. are in your fast food go-to meal. Check out the nutritional information on the restaurant’s website.
  • Learn more about Informed Dining from Healthy Families BC.

It’s really all about choices and it’s all up to you! Don’t let your body down; feed it what it needs to stay happy and healthy until long after your working days are through!

Check out Dietitians of Canada for more tips on healthy choices while eating out.

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!

Anita Gillespie

About Anita Gillespie

Anita grew up in a little town near Victoria, B.C., and moved to Vancouver to pursue dietetics at the University of British Columbia. Now in her fifth and final year of the dietetics program, she finds herself completing an internship with Northern Health. Although it’s hard being away from friends and family, Anita is enjoying her time in the snowy north meeting the friendly locals. Cooking for one isn't too exciting but she tries to experiment with a new recipe each week. So far, so good!