What’s on the table at your place? If there’s less “rainbow” and more in the way of fast food wrappers, help is at hand. In fact, for Nutrition Month in March, Dietitians of Canada is encouraging all of us to make small changes, one meal at a time.
Since we’ll all consume close to 100 meals in March, the national organization is calling it the 100 Meal Journey; along the way, it will be sharing information to guide us in making an adjustment in our habits and a difference in our health.
Starting at www.NutritionMonth2016.ca, you can make the 100 Meal Journey a household affair. As a family, you can commit to taking action and sticking with it—one meal at a time. A change can be as easy as adding a serving of vegetables or fruit to meals, seasoning with spices instead of salt, or reducing portion sizes to match your appetite.
Pick one change and practice it over 100 meals.
Week One: Take the pledge, then identify and commit to a change.
Tip: Post your goals in the kitchen to keep healthy eating in focus. Monitor your progress with a food diary or app such as eaTracker. (You can find it at eaTracker.ca.)
Week Two: Enjoy nourishing, nutrient-rich foods and aim to cook more often.
Tip: Forget the food court. For lunch, pack wholesome food fast, such as “planned leftovers.” If you roast extra root veggies, you can layer them on crusty whole grain bread with hummus and baby spinach for a sandwich.
Week Three: Pay attention to portion size. Discover the environmental cues that cause you to overeat and be mindful of choosing right-sized servings.
Tip: Package, plate and portion sizes influence how much you eat. Use smaller, lunch-size plates and bowls for meals; you’ll eat less but still feel satisfied.
Week Four: Try a new food, recipe or ingredient.
Tip: Perk up your menu with recipes from an app such as Cookspiration. (You’ll find it at cookspiration.com.)
Week Five: Consider how you’ll stick with the change you’ve made, even in different circumstances.
Tip: Plan how you’ll manage healthy-eating roadblocks before they happen. For example, pack healthy snacks for travelling so you don’t have to buy food at the airport, train station or roadside stop.
The Dietitians of Canada’s Kate Comeau answers questions about family nutrition:
What are the challenges families are facing in eating nutritiously and setting healthy examples for the next generation?
One challenge is that we’re spending less time preparing meals from scratch and relying more on pre-prepared meals and convenience food. Changes to family structure, lack of time and better food technology are just a few of the factors that have led to this shift. The concern with relying on highly processed, pre-made and restaurant meals is the impact on overall health.
Cooking meals from scratch is associated with increased intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. This is important because vegetable and fruit intake is associated with healthy weights, as well as reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers. But Canadians don’t consume enough.
Another challenge is the amount of food we are consuming. Portion sizes both in and out of the home, for example at restaurants and grocery stores, have increased significantly over time. In many cases this means we eat and drink more than we need, although we don’t always realize it.
For example, stockpiling large amounts of food and buying club-size packages can cause you to eat more. So can eating off a larger plate. During Nutrition Month, we’ll provide tips and strategies to avoid overeating and to choose and serve right-sized portions of nourishing foods.
What small changes make a big difference in healthy eating for families?
Changes to the types of foods and the amount of foods would make a big difference in healthy eating for families.
The first step is to get together as a family and talk about what kinds of changes you’d like to make. This is a great opportunity to role model the importance of healthy habits to your kids. To make your small change stick, set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and have a time-frame attached.
For example, a small change you might make is to “swap the sip” and drink water instead of sugary drinks at meals. To make the transition, write down this SMART goal: As a family, drink water (or plain milk) at weekday meals during the 100 Meal Journey.
These wholesome recipes will also help you change your meal plans.
Baked Eggs with Lentils, Peppers and Tomatoes
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 bell peppers (mixture of yellow, orange, red), sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 tbsp honey
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp chopped thyme
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (reserve some for garnish)
10 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked or canned green lentils, drained and rinsed
8 large eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
PREHEAT oven to 400 ⁰F. in a large, ovenproof sauté pan over medium high heat, cook the cumin and coriander for two minutes, stirring often. Add onions and olive oil, and sauté five minutes. Add garlic, peppers, honey, bay leaves, thyme, cilantro, and cook for five minutes, stirring often. Add tomatoes, paprika, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cooked lentils and cook seven minutes longer. Remove bay leaves.
Continue in your ovenproof sauté pan, or divide lentil sauce into eight individual ovenproof skillets or ramekins. Make eight indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until eggs are cooked to desired doneness. Garnish with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.
Cinnamon Multigrain and Yogurt Pancakes
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup multigrain hot cereal (uncooked)
1 2/3 cups milk
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each, baking soda and salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1-1/2 tbsp butter, melted, divided
1 tbsp maple syrup or liquid honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, combine multigrain cereal, oats and milk; let soak for 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
Whisk egg, yogurt, 1 tbsp of the melted butter, syrup and vanilla into cereal mixture. Pour over flour mixture and stir just until combined. Set aside for about five minutes while preparing yogurt.
For the cinnamon yogurt, combine cinnamon, yogurt, syrup and vanilla. Set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Brush with a thin layer of remaining butter. Ladle about 1/4 cup batter per pancake into skillet. Cook for one to two minutes or until bottoms are golden and edges look dry; flip over and cook for one to two minutes longer or until golden and puffed. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing skillet and adjusting heat as necessary between batches. Serve pancakes with cinnamon yogurt and fresh fruit.