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Eat At Home For Improved Nutrition And Cost Savings

Fewer than half of Canadians eat more than one cooked meal per day and 33 per cent of Canadians eat take-out at least once per week, according to research done by the Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition and Dietitians of Canada.

Our tendency to reach for convenience foods either in the frozen food section or restaurants is creating a whole generation of young people at high risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and stroke at an earlier age, warns the Heart and Stroke Foundation. That’s because eating convenience foods regularly means consuming far more fat, calories, and sodium.

The simple way to turn around that trend is to cook at home more often. “Those same meals can easily be made at home, making them more nutritious and usually less expensive,” says Amanda Nash, nutrition manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba (HSFM).

Foundation staff have revised four meal options typically available in restaurants or as pre-packaged to give them a healthy twist. They then compared them to the store-bought or restaurant versions.

See for yourself (charts below) how big a difference eating home-cooked food makes on both the budget and the amount of calories, fat and sodium consumed. Note that there was actually 11 times less sodium in the homemade soup!

“In general, an eating pattern relying on fast food, restaurant food and pre-packaged convenience foods can result in too much saturated fat and sodium, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke,” says Christine Houde, another HSFM nutrition manager.

These recipes can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, proving that cooking at home is neither difficult nor time consuming, adds Nash. Too busy to cook? It is a matter of making proper nutrition a priority. “A healthy homemade meal can be a part of even the busiest person’s day,” she said.

For Nutrition Month Heart and Stroke Manitoba and the Manitoba Canola Growers Association have released these new recipes to compliment popular recipes in theQuick and Healthy Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy recipe book. The recipes are available online and in print and will be aired as cooking segments on Shaw TV and WCG-TV this month. If you’d like copies of these recipes call 1-888-473-4636.


This is a simple and delicious cake recipe found inCountry Cooking, A Canadian Collection of Home Tested Recipescompiled and published by Derksen Printers in Steinbach.

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

2 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 c. skim milk

1 c. buttermilk

3 tbsp. canola oil

Preheat waffle iron. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, buttermilk and canola oil. Pour over flour mixture and stir together. Do not overmix. For each waffle, lightly spray canola oil cooking spray on the waffle iron. Pour about 1/2 cup 3/4 cup of batter. Bake until golden brown.

Makes 14 4-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch squares.

Tip:In place of buttermilk, use an equivalent amount of sour milk, made by adding 1 tbsp. of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of skim milk.

Nutritional information: (based on serving size of 2 squares) Calories: 240, Cholesterol: 60 mg, Total Fat: 8 g, Carbohydrates: 32 g, Fibre: 2 g, Protein: 8 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g


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A heart-healthy alternative to your traditional mac and cheese that packs a colourful punch of veggies. Kids love it.

1-1/2 c. whole wheat

elbow macaroni

2 tbsp. canola oil

1 small onion,

finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 tbsp. whole

wheat flour

1-1/2 c. skim milk

1-1/2 c. reduced-fat old

cheddar cheese

1/2 red pepper,

finely diced

1/2 yellow pepper,

finely diced

1 c. finely chopped


1 medium carrot,


2 tbsp. freshly

chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 F. In medium saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook macaroni to al dente (slightly firm to the bite.) Drain noodles and reserve. In a large saucepan heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté 3 4 minutes, until onions have softened. Sprinkle with pepper. Add flour and stir to coat the onions. Gradually whisk in the milk and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. Continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts into the sauce. Fold in the vegetables and the cooked macaroni. Transfer to a 3-litre casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray, or to individual ramekin dishes that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake large casserole for 25 to 30 minutes or until macaroni is bubbling. (Cook ramekins for approximately 15 20 minutes.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Nutritional information: (based on dividing recipe into six servings) Calories: 210, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Total Fat: 9 g, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fibre: 2 g, Protein: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g


Make yourself a double batch and freeze for a mid-week meal or easy-to-take lunches.

2 tbsp. canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 medium stalk celery,


2 c. medium-diced


2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 can (19 oz/540 ml)

navy beans, drained

and rinsed

8 c. sodium-reduced

chicken stock

1 can (156 ml)

tomato paste

1/2 c. whole wheat mini

alphabet pasta

2 tbsp. freshly

chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, warm canola oil over medium- high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until softened. Add carrots, celery and cabbage and sauté for 10 minutes, until vegetables have softened. Stir in oregano, basil and pepper. Add beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add tomato paste. Stir to blend ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until pasta is cooked. Garnish with parsley and serve hot. Soup may be frozen for future use.

Yield: 12 servings

Nutritional information: (Based on serving size of 1 cup) Calories: 140, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Total Fat: 3 g, Carbohydrates: 22 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0 g, Fibre: 7 g, Protein: 7 g




Food Cost



$2.64 $1.81 $0.69 $0.37 458 300



Mac &Cheese

Minestrone Soup









Fast FoodNutritionCaloriesFat





19g 1,056mg

10 g

14 g

9 g

1 g

3 g

11 g

8 g

240 mg

735 mg

220 mg

800 mg

75 mg

791 mg

280 mg

Tacos (convenience)

Tacos (homemade)

Mac &Cheese (convenience)

Mac &Cheese (homemade)

Minestrone Soup (convenience)

Minestrone Soup (homemade)

Waffles (convenience)

Waffles (homemade)


Canadians eat more than double the amount of salt that their body needs and 17,000 Canadians suffer heart attack and stroke each year as a result of too much sodium.

Seventy-seven per cent of our sodium intake comes from convenience foods while 10 per cent comes from the salt shaker.

Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba

Tips for home food preparation:

Be organized and have a plan; know what you’re cooking in advance. Having a weekly meal plan can help you get organized, cut down on trips to the grocery store, and reduce a reliance on fast food.

Prepare what you can the night before or on the weekend. For example, marinate meat overnight, wash and cut vegetables in advance, put them in a zip-lock bag to maintain freshness and use them for weeknight meal preparation.

Use some of the many pre-prepped or ready-to-go foods available in grocery stores. Convenience products such as ready-to-use bagged salads and stir-fry vegetables can help save time. They are more expensive, but the extra cost may be worth it to you.

Use batch cooking. Cook enough food to last two to three meals, and then freeze the leftovers.

Use simple recipes. Many of the recipes listed on the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba website are quick and nutritious. The foundation can also recommend several cookbooks.

– Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba



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