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March is Nutrition Month! Cook and enjoy!

Dietitians of Canada have named March “Nutrition Month”. This year’s theme is, ‘Unlock the Potential of Food'.

Cooking is important because it often means that meals are more nutritious and less processed. Luckily, healthy cooking can be simple! Use cooking as a fun family event, while passing on important skills to children.

To get started, stock some healthy convenience foods to make healthy eating easy. A few ideas include:

  • Light canned tuna or canned salmon

  • Pre-cut butternut squash

  • Drained and rinsed canned legumes such as chickpeas or lentils

  • Canned diced tomatoes

  • Shredded cheese

  • Eggs or cartons of egg whites

  • Plain frozen fish fillets

  • Frozen vegetables and fruit

  • Fresh or frozen whole wheat tortellini

  • Whole grain pizza crusts, whole wheat pitas or whole wheat Naan bread

Cooking great meals can be quicker than getting take-out. Try quesadillas filled with lean meat and vegetables, whole grain pita pizzas topped with left-over chicken and vegetables, stir fry shrimp and frozen vegetables with your favorite herbs and spices or a quick salmon burger on whole wheat bun with salad. Add a little zing with red pepper flakes, lime juice, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cheese, pesto or vinegar.

Cook Once, Eat Twice! Make many portions and eat leftovers on busier days or package individually and freeze for a quick meal on hockey night. Breakfasts that can be made in large batches are, whole grain pancakes, long-cooking (large flake) oats or vegetable frittata. While making one meal, grill extra chicken for a sandwich or burger for another meal. If roasting vegetables, make plenty to toss into tomorrow’s pasta dish or to top your pizza. Chili for supper? Cook a large pot and use leftovers for enchiladas. Salad with supper? Make a large container and put in the fridge for lunch tomorrow or top with your extra chicken for supper later this week.

One-pot meals make dinner and clean up, simple. Go quick with simple skillet fajitas or slow with hardy slow-cooker stew full of different colors of vegetables.

Some tools to simplify cooking are good pots and pans, a crock-pot, a silicone steamer, sharp knives, box grater, steamer basket, and instant-read thermometer.

Eating on a Budget and need a few ideas? Try eating vegetable proteins instead of meat. Add cooked orange lentils to spaghetti instead of (or with) ground beef or stir black beans and chickpeas into soup.

Make Meal Preparation Fun! Give kids tasks such as stirring. Choose-easy recipes with tasks that kids can do. Prepare some ingredients ahead (e.g. Leftover chicken or vegetables). Have a cooking challenge with older children or allow them to blend their own frosty using frozen fruit, bananas, yogurt and milk. Encourage them to be adventurous by adding spinach or carrots. Invite friends and family over for a cooking party. Cook a large amount of a few different meals so everyone has food for days. Bulk cooking can save money while cooking with friends will share the workload and fun. Relax and enjoy a meal together afterwards.

Elephant in the Room During the months of June and September, the Manitoulin Senior Service Providers Network will be holding a four day Seniors Conference surrounding the topic of Elder Abuse. The events will be located in Gore Bay, Manitowaning, Mindemoya and Little Current and will be in a workshop style format. Speakers will range from lawyers to Geriatricians, OPP officers and Health Care Professionals. Entertainment and food will also be provided, promising a fabulous four days of education and fraternization. More information to come. For nutrition information, recipe or meal ideas check out or speak with one of your local dietitians. Dietitians in your area are available to help with all of your nutrition needs. For more information or to book an appointment, call 705-377-5371 extension 1.

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