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It’s always nice when a win in one area of your life leads to another win—and that’s precisely what happens when you make eco-friendly food choices. Your body benefits from more nutritious meal ingredients, while the impact to the planet is minimized thanks to sustainable growing and production processes. The start of the year is a great time to re-evaluate our lifestyle habits, including assessing the food we eat to make sure that we’re nourishing our bodies. Here are some tips to help you get started:
The new year is synonymous with hopping on the dieting bandwagon, trying out whatever is trendy (but not necessarily better for us). While you may see fast results, studies show people who go on restrictive diets usually end up gaining more weight back than they lost in the long run. Instead, focus on making better choices every day, like choosing whole-grain bread versus muffins or having fruit for your midday snack.
Grow your own produce garden
Long shipping distances contribute to higher carbon emissions, so the closer to home your food is grown, the better for the environment. And what could be closer than your own backyard? Spinach, strawberries, and bell peppers are some of the easier things to grow. If you lack space, even growing your herbs on a small windowsill can make a difference. Or check out a community garden.
Cook more meals at home
Many of us grew tired of our own cooking during the pandemic, and with much of the world reopening and the indulgences of the holidays, it’s been tempting to rely on takeout and restaurants more. But research shows that cooking at home is an effective way to improve diet quality, lose weight, and prevent diabetes. So, search for some new nutrient-dense recipes you can cook yourself and get back in the kitchen.
Choose sustainable ingredients
As you’re reassessing the impact of your food on your body, take some time to think about the planet too. Look for food from local sources and companies with brands that have strong sustainability practices, like Bimbo Canada, which offers high-quality yet affordable foods made with the simplest ingredients. The company behind bakery favourites like Dempster’s is committed to using 100 percent sustainable packaging and reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2025.
Incorporate more whole grains
While many of us grew up eating white bread at home, whole grains are the more nutritious alternative. In fact, whole and multi-grains are better sources of fibre and nutrients like iron, folate, and selenium. Look for bagels, English muffins, and sliced breads in tasty whole-grain varieties.
Choose sustainable wines
It can be easy to focus on sustainable local produce and forget about the other items that go into a meal, like condiments and even wine. Many Canadian wineries lead the way with green processes, like using energy-efficient lighting and capturing rainwater for reuse. Whether for drinking or cooking, do some digging to find a sustainable local vineyard for your wine.
Crispy Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Serves: 2
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
- 1 tbsp hemp oil (15ml)
- 1.5 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
- 1 cup mixed fresh seasonal fruit
- 4 tbsp crushed cashews, unsalted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Mix quinoa with maple syrup and oil; spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp for 13 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and transfer to a plate.
- To serve, divide yogurt into two bowls and top each with half of the fruit, quinoa and cashews
Tip: You can use a more neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or light olive oil.
Nutritional information (per serving): Calories: 379; protein 20g; total fat 9g; saturated fat 3g; unsaturated fat 4g; carbohydrates 60g; fibre 12g; sodium 65mg.
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Serves: 6
- 6 slices Italian-style thick-slice whole wheat bread
- ½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
- 4 cups (1 L) baby spinach
- 1 lb (500 g) asparagus, cooked and chopped
- ½ cup (125 mL) chopped drained marinated artichokes
- ½ cup (125 mL) halved pitted olives
- ½ cup (125 mL) chopped drained sun-dried tomatoes
- ½ cup (125 mL) Italian vinaigrette
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Cut bread into one-inch (2.5 cm) cubes; toss with Parmesan and olive oil.
- Spread in single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake, stirring once or twice, for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden
- In bowl, toss together bread cubes, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Pour in dressing and toss to coat.