Recipe Swap: Use perimeter vision to make over your grocery cart

What’s your route through your grocery store? If you travel its outer edges, and buy most of your groceries there, you’re going the right direction, according to dietitians who are encouraging us to shop a store’s perimeter more often during March Nutrition Month.

That’s where the fresh, unprocessed foods, like raw fruit and vegetables, and fresh meat and dairy are found.

Unfortunately, many of us stroll the middle aisles instead, and load up on the ready-to-eat foods, usually higher in fat and sodium. We’re often overwhelmed by the vast range of choices in the grocery stores too.

A recent poll conducted for Dietitians of Canada finds many of us unsure about what we should buy when we get there; an astonishing 63 per cent of those polled said they struggle to make healthy choices at least half the time.

The better news is most of us (67 per cent) also take a grocery list when we go, over half (52 per cent) read labels and 58 per cent say they cook balanced meals at home.

The 2013 Nutrition Month theme — Best Food Forward — Plan, Shop, Cook, Enjoy — aims to encourage more of that, offering practical tips and advice to make better decisions at the store that result in healthier food cooked at home. The tips offered include cooking for small households (one or two persons), shopping on a budget, focusing on fresh food and 31 tips for grocery shopping for healthy food.

The campaign includes lots of simple, common-sense tips — like keeping a fridge uncluttered, with fresh food snacks in plain sight, lest you be tempted with the higher-fat and sugar stuff.

As always, Nutrition Month’s overall message is that healthy eating isn’t complicated. With a plan-ahead, strategic approach to grocery shopping, we can take home better food for making simple, lower-cost, home-cooked meals that are much healthier for us too.

You can access Nutrition Month tips from eaTipster, the Dietitians of Canada’s new free iPhone and iPad app, or visit their website at

Here’s an example:

Today’s Tip!

  • Brown sugar is usually white sugar with molasses added.

While some people consider brown sugar to be more natural, it is no healthier than white sugar. In fact, brown sugar is usually white sugar with molasses added to it. Both brown sugar and white sugar are concentrated sources of calories with very few other nutrients. Too much sugar in any form gives you extra calories. Whether you choose to use brown sugar or white sugar, use small amounts.

Here are two recipes courtesy of Dietitians of Canada ( I think you’ll want to try. Cook and enjoy!

Mediterranean Roasted Beef And Veggies

This colourful, nutrient-rich dinner cooks all at once, for minimal fuss. Serve with cooked couscous, quinoa, rice or pasta.

  • 6 cloves, garlic peeled
  • 3 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 small Spanish onion, cut into 12 wedges
  • 1 baby eggplant, cut into chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 8 ozs. zucchini (about 2 small), cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch slices
  • 4 ozs. mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 tbsp. basil pesto, divided
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. boneless beef sirloin tip or inside round oven roast
  • Pinch each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. liquid honey

Preheat oven to 275 F. Lightly spray prepared baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine garlic, tomatoes, onion, eggplant, red pepper, yellow pepper, zucchini, mushrooms and three tbsp. of the pesto; toss to coat. Spread evenly on prepared baking sheet; set aside. In ovenproof sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper. 

Cook beef, turning with tongs, for about 10 minutes or until browned all over. Spread the remaining pesto over roast. Place on rack in the same sauté pan. Roast beef and vegetables in preheated oven for about 1-1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast registers 140 F for medium rare, or until desired doneness. Transfer roast to a cutting board, tent with foil and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape vegetables into a large bowl. Add vinegar and honey; toss to coat. Carve roast across the grain into thin slices. Serve with vegetables. Makes six servings, with leftovers.

Butternut squash, spinach and feta frittata

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (4 to 5 cups)
  • 1 pkg. (10 ozs.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1-1/2 c. cubed peeled potatoes
  • 3/4 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 c. 1 per cent milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place squash in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap, leaving a corner open to vent. Microwave on High for about five minutes or until fork tender. Drain off excess liquid. Gently stir in spinach, potatoes and red onion. Spread in 13×9-inch glass baking dish, lightly greased. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season to taste with pepper. Pour over vegetables and stir gently to distribute. Sprinkle evenly with cheddar and feta. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until eggs are set. Makes 12 servings.

Source: ©YEAR. Dietitians of Canada. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in its entirety. For noncommercial use only.


Several readers were quick to point out a recipe for a Chewy Granola Bar on these pages Feb. 28 was listed as ‘nut free’ when the ingredients include peanut butter, almonds and coconut. These ingredients are not in fact nuts — peanuts are a legume, almonds and coconuts are drupes, which is the same family as a peach. But they can be allergens or, as in the case of almonds, are often processed in the same facilities that handle nuts. So they are usually on the list of foods that should not be served in nut-free facilities.

In the original article containing this recipe, I failed to include safer substitutes. My apologies for that. Here is the original recipe again with those substitute ingredients.

Jenn’s chewy granola bars

  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter (substitute 2/3 c. Sunbutter*)
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds, skin on (substitute 1/2 c. coarsely chopped apricots**)
  • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 c. large flaked oats

Preheat oven to 325 F/170 C. In extra-large bowl, mix brown sugar, honey, peanut butter (or Sunbutter), canola oil, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Add coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, almonds (or chopped apricots), sunflower seeds, bran, sesame seeds and oats. Stir until blended. In a 9×13-inch pan, line with parchment paper and lightly spray with canola oil. Press mixture into the pan, making sure it is even. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan. Cut into individual bars and store in freezer.

* Sunbutter is found in health food stores and is a peanut butter alternative that is not only nut free but gluten free, and contains no hydrogenated oil. It has very similar consistency to natural peanut butter and tastes just like sunflower seeds. To learn more about the product visit
** Chopped apricots is one suggestion from Jenn, who experimented with the original recipe to produce the alternative version. She also suggests using dried cranberries, or coarsely chopped prunes, golden raisins, dried berry mix, dried mango, coarsely chopped dried apples. Or you could add an extra 1/2 cup combination of the other items in the bars (chocolate chips, raisins, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, coconut). If you are wary of any of the other ingredients, experiment with other combinations of the ingredients you do like.

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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