Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Summer salads are for sharing

Three food dishes on a picnic table.

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

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

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

Sweet & Tangy Big Batch Coleslaw

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

Serves 10 or more.


  • 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


  • 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

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


  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.


Easter potlucks and food safety

Potluck items on a table

Do your Easter plans include a potluck? Take steps to make sure that your party is not just fun and delicious, but safe, too!

With Easter just around the corner, many people are preparing to gather family and friends for a feast around the table. Potlucks are a popular idea for get-togethers, helping to take some of the burden off of the host. Take steps to make sure that your potluck isn’t just fun, but healthy and safe, too!

Keeping food safe, particularly food prepared at home and brought to another location, is very important in reducing the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Most cases of foodborne illness start in home kitchens not because of the food but because of how the food is prepared. The familiar symptoms many people attribute to “stomach flu” such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, fever, headache and muscle pain may not be the flu but rather foodborne illness. For some people – the very old, the very young, pregnant women and those who have a chronic illness – a foodborne illness can be life threatening.

Potluck meals bring with them the potential for food handling errors that should be avoided. Some of the more common errors include leaving perishable food at room temperature for too long (longer than 2 hours), cooking large amounts of food ahead of time and cooling it improperly, or failing to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods should be held at 60 C or above (above 140 F) and cold foods at 4 C or below (40 F).

Here’s what you should think about before you decide what to bring to your next potluck:

  1. If the item is perishable, will you be able to keep it cold or hot until it is served?
  2. Will you be able to heat the food or keep it warm once you arrive at the event?
  3. Will there be refrigeration available at the event so foods can be kept cold?

If there are leftovers, or in the event that dishes are prepared in advance of the event, ensure that they are cooled in a timely fashion. Proper cooling requires bringing the food from 60 C to 20 C within two hours and from 20 C to 4 C within four hours. Large dishes can be separated into smaller dishes to expedite the process. When reheating leftovers, ensure they reach an adequate temperature of 74 C.

Here are four simple food safety rules to remember:

  1. Keep hot food hot (above 140 F).
  2. Keep cold food cold (below 40 F).
  3. Keep hands, work surfaces and utensils clean.
  4. Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
Neelam Hayer

About Neelam Hayer

Neelam works as an Environmental Health Officer in Prince George. She completed her BSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UNBC before graduating from BCIT's Environmental Health program in 2009. Neelam grew up in northern B.C., so being back in Prince George was like coming back home for her. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, hiking, playing soccer, trying out healthy new recipes, and spending time with family and friends.