The goal of the 2014 National Nutrition Month Campaign is that during March (and beyond), dietitians will inspire Canadians to get back to the kitchen to simply cook and enjoy healthy meals with their families. The slogan for this year’s campaign is “Simply Cook and Enjoy!”
Why is the theme “Simply Cook and Enjoy!” relevant?
There is a growing concern regarding a potential lack of home cooking and loss of cooking skills among Canadians of all ages. Shifting values, time constraints and availability of prepared meals are just a few of the factors that translate into diminishing food preparation skills.
- Cooking skills equip us with the ability to make homemade meals, which can improve dietary quality.
- Cooking meals from scratch is associated with increased intake of vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
- Lower fast food consumption (Eating fast food more often is associated with increased energy intake, poor dietary quality, and increased availability of snack food and pop in the home).
- Significant health consequences can arise from relying on a diet of highly processed, pre-made meals and restaurant food.
- Learning to cook helps kids make better food choices and cook for themselves as they grow up.
- Helping out in the kitchen also involves skills in other areas such as literacy, math and science.
- Greater involvement of children and teens in food preparation is associated with higher frequency of eating family meals together. In turn, children and teens who regularly eat meals with their families experience benefits such as improved food choices; better nutrient intakes; healthier weights; reduced risk for eating disorders; better social adjustment; and improved school performance.
- Teens who are involved in meal preparation have a better intake of vegetables and fruit and lower intakes of fat, pop and fried food.
What are some convenient foods that make healthier short cuts?
10 convenience foods that make great healthier shortcuts include:
• Hand prepared farmers market soups and healthy entrees
• Pre-cut butternut squash, yams or mixed raw veggies
• Canned legumes such as chick peas or lentils
• Canned diced tomatoes
• Shredded cheese
• Plain frozen fish fillets or light canned tuna or canned salmon
• Frozen vegetables and fruit
• Fresh or frozen whole wheat tortellini or pasta
• Whole grain pizza crusts
What are some fast healthy supper meals?
1. Sandwiches made with whole grain bread, tortillas or flatbread and filled with delicious, good-for-you ingredients make for a perfect casual supper. Try these tasty sandwiches, served with a side of crisp raw veggies:
- Fresh roasted turkey breast, avocado, tomato and lettuce
- Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced pear and spicy red pepper jelly
- Fresh roast beef, roasted red pepper and red onion
- Hummus, thinly sliced cucumber, shredded carrot and lettuce
2. Quesadillas filled with black beans, diced sweet pepper, salsa and Monterey Jack cheese
3. Shrimp or tofu sautéed with broccoli, garlic, ginger and a pinch of hot pepper flakes, served over whole wheat couscous
4. Whole grain pita pizzas topped with mushrooms, spinach, leftover grilled chicken and mozzarella
What are some time saving healthy options for breakfast?
Double up! Make a double batch of breakfast on the weekend to enjoy during the week.
- Refrigerate extra whole grain pancakes. Reheat in the toaster and top with almond butter and sliced bananas. Enjoy with a glass of milk.
- Make a big pot of oatmeal. Store single portions in the fridge or freezer. Reheat in the microwave and serve with a scoop of berries and walnut pieces.
- Bake a vegetable-filled frittata and refrigerate extra slices. They’re tasty hot or cold.
If you don’t like eating the same meal twice what is another way to save time?
Cook once. Eat twice. Make weeknight cooking a breeze with planned extras.
Planned extras make an entirely new meal! Just make a little more food than you need for one meal and reinvent it for another. Try these easy options:
- Grilling chicken or fish? Grill a couple of extra pieces for sandwiches.
- Roasting veggies? Roast extras to toss with pasta or barley or to top a pizza.
- Serving chili? Cook a bigger pot and then make enchiladas.
- Having salad with supper? Make extra and put it in the fridge, without dressing, for tomorrow’s lunch.
You say you can make a healthy no fuss meal with just six ingredients?
You don’t need a long list of ingredients to make a healthy, delicious meal. Get inspired with these ideas, which use just six main ingredients:
- Cheesy Frittata – eggs, spinach, diced potato, red onion, milk and old cheddar cheese baked together into a fabulous frittata
- Lemony Pasta– whole grain pasta tossed with grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, chickpeas and freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Loaded Sweet Potato–baked sweet potato topped with black beans, green onion, tomato, cilantro and a spoonful of plain yogurt
Where can I get more resources on healthy cooking?
Visit the Health Stand Nutrition website www.healthstandnutrition.com and subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter for tips, recipes, articles, podcasts and videos.
Visit www.dietitians.ca to watch videos of Registered Dietitians sharing Simply Cook and Enjoy! cooking tips.
Download eaTipster free from www.eatipster.com and be inspired by a new cooking tip each day in March – and healthy tips for the rest of the year!
Download the Cookspiration free iPhone and iPad app or visit www.cookspiration.com and get recipe ideas based on what you feel like eating.
Reference: Dietitians of Canada 2014 Nutrition Month Resource Manual