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Quick tips for cooking @ home

Stir the saucePrepare more meals from scratch with good-for-you ingredients.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated; nutritious convenience foods, such as frozen fruit, ready-to-go salads and pre-chopped vegetables, offer simple shortcuts.

Cooking from scratch allows you to control exactly what and how much of an ingredient you include in your family meals.

Tips for Cooking @ Home:

  • If sodium is a concern, choose low sodium ingredients and add only small amounts while cooking. This can drastically cut down on sodium levels in your meals.
  • If a lack of veggies are a concern, amp up traditional recipes with a variety of veggies, either frozen or fresh. You can add them to your chili, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, shepherd’s pie, stir fry and/or side dishes . For meaty entrees, double up on the veggie ingredients the recipe is calling for and halve the meat.
  • Keep it simple. Buy one main ingredient. Make multiple meals. I usually like to purchase ground meats in bulk and prepare it in a variety of ways. If I purchase ground beef or chicken, for example, cooking it in bulk can allow me to make spaghetti, tacos, shepherd’s pie and chili, all in one week!
  • Get fresh! Fill your cart with more fresh foods, like veggies, yogurt or fish, to cook from scratch.
  • Skip packaged meals. Cooking simple meals is an easy way to save money on your grocery bill. Pre-packaged frozen meals are usually packed with sodium and low in nutrients.
  • Cook n’ share! Prepare big batches on weekends and swap meals with friends.
  • Make cooking fun and include your kids in the kitchen to help out with portioning, stirring or dumping ingredients in the pot!

Remember cooking at home can be fun if we plan ahead and shop smartly!

Wishing you continued good luck in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Learning to love grocery shopping

Learning to love grocery shopping with Kids Eat SmartWhen it comes to grocery shopping, many of us view it as a rather dreary chore. What with reading labels, checking prices and comparing products, supermarkets can be an overwhelming place for those trying to stick to the plan!

You can learn to love (or least not loath) grocery shopping by remembering to not shop on an empty stomach and to stick primarily to the perimeters of the supermarket.

The perimeter of the store is where you will usually find the fresh whole foods we need to make up a healthy balanced menu plan for the week.

Do take some time to read food labels and compare products so you can choose the most nutrient-rich foods in every aisle of the store.

Fill your cart with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, milk products, lean fresh meat and meat alternatives such as legumes. Try to skip the processed foods that are convenient, but are often filled with fat, sugar or salt and are low in nutrients.

Dietitians can (and do!) help you learn how to put healthy food in your cart with a few well-respected and practical dietitian-developed tools that you can use to help keep on track:

  • Dietitian of Canada’s Eatracker – consumers can track food and activity choices, analyze recipes and plan meals at www.eatracker.ca
  • Dietitian of Canada’s Nutrition Month videos – consumers can watch Registered Dietitians and Nutrition Month Spokespersons share shopping tips at www.dietitians.ca/nutritionmonth
  • EatRight Ontario’s My Menu Planner – consumers can use this tool to develop a personalized menu plan at www.eatrightontario.ca
  • Healthy Families BC’s Shopping Sense – consumers can take a virtual grocery store tour and watch shopping videos at www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
  • Dietitians of Canada’s eaTipster – download the eaTipster app for free at www.eatipster.com and get a new grocery shopping tip delivered every day in March

Wishing you continued good luck in putting your Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

Kids Eat Smart celebrates Nutrition MonthWelcome to March! It’s Nutrition Month, brought to you by the Dietitians of Canada, of which I am proud to be a member.

Did you know that:

  • Two thirds (63 per cent) of Canadians struggle with making healthier food choices in the grocery store at least half the time they shop
  • While many Canadians write grocery lists (67 per cent), fewer plan meals (37 per cent)
  • Half (52 per cent) of Canadians always or very often read the nutrition label on a food before purchasing

This kind of information, (gathered from a 2012 Ipsos Reid Poll commissioned by Dietitians of Canada,) led to this year’s slogan – Best Food Forward: Plan Shop Cook Enjoy!

The key take-away is that healthy eating begins in the grocery store, so throughout the month, I’ll try and share practical advice to help make shopping for healthy food for you and your family a little easier.

Most of us purchase much of the food our family consumes from the grocery store. Busy lives and limited budgets sometimes mean our carts are not always filled with the best choices.

Research and common sense tells us that what is easily accessible is more frequently eaten. This is especially true with large quantities and packages of food such as snack food that requires little preparation.

Having healthier choices that are available, accessible and visible (e.g. fruit on the counter) can potentially increase the uptake and intake for everyone in the home.

I’ll kick us off today with a tip that I’ve talked about before – PLAN AHEAD.

Try to take these four steps BEFORE you head to the grocery store:

  1. THINK about what meals you’ll be making
  2. SCAN the flyers for specials
  3. CHECK your kitchen’s inventory
  4. MAKE a list

For more tips and tools on planning your trip to the grocery store, check out one of my previous blog posts Tackling the trip to the grocery store.

At Kids Eat Smart Foundation, we believe that Good Eating = Good Thinking, but you can also flip it around when heading to the grocery store – good thinking can help equal good eating too!

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.