Category Archives: Nutrition

Grilling All Autumn Long with Local Produce

Grilling Nutrition

Thanks to what seems like the hottest summer ever, it seems everyone is looking forward to this cooler weather and the bounty of produce that will be harvested in British Columbia this fall. The grocery store is filling with a variety of beautifully fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. Walking through each aisle of the produce department, it’s so exciting to see local fare including many varieties of apples and pears, bright purple beets, huge heads of cauliflower, sweet corn, many colors of peppers and so much more.

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to an overall healthy lifestyle, as these foods provide the body with the nutrients necessary for optimal health. All fruits and vegetables are a source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and contain antioxidants.

During this transition in weather, why not enjoy the bounty of the season while preserving any ounce of warm weather there is left. Throw all this produce on the backyard grill to bring out the flavor with the char and caramelization of a flame. Slice cauliflower lengthwise into ‘steaks’, slice peppers into quarters, and remove the husks from corn. Simply drizzle or brush vegetables with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and your favorite herbs and spices. Place directly on the grill or on skewers. Cook, turning every few minutes until charred on all sides. The grilling possibilities also extend to fruits. Sprinkle apple or pear wedges with cinnamon and place directly on the grill. There really is no vegetable or fruit that cannot be grilled, get creative!

Grilling can help with batch cooking for packed lunches and dinners on busy weeknights. Add leftover grilled cauliflower florets to fresh greens and sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette for a side salad with dinner. Prepare an extra few cobs of corn, a pepper and some chicken breasts on the grill with supper to use in the Chicken Confetti Salad below. Stir in some quinoa or couscous prepared the night before and this is a complete meal that can be eaten cold right out of the lunchbox.

The whole meal doesn’t need to be prepared on the grill if there is not enough room for everything. Throw some bean burgers or pork chops on the grill and prepare an apple slaw in the meantime. Extra proteins can be re-vamped the next day for a tossed salad or warm skillet. My favourite apple varieties for a fresh slaw is a Gala or Pazazz, as they are crunchy and so sweet. Purple cabbage adds a bite, beautiful pop of color and is rich in antioxidants.

At Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer, when you see ‘Local’ on the shelf tag, which means the produce was grown within 150 kilometers of your local store. The short transportation time required to ship within this geographical region means that the produce is fresh and excellent quality when it reaches your fridge (and the grill) at home.

Chicken Confetti Salad

1 lb (500 g) PC Blue Menu Air Chilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh coriander
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) PC Salsa Ranch Dressing
2 tbsp (25 mL) PC Splendido Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 sweet red pepper diced
1 large celery stalk diced
1 small red onion diced
2 cups (500 mL) PC Frozen Peaches & Cream Corn thawed
1. Preheat barbecue to medium-high.
2. Brush chicken breasts with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on greased grill. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until cooked through. Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss together corn, red pepper, celery, onion, dressing and coriander.
3. Divide corn salad among four plates; top with chicken breasts.

Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 424 calories, fat 20 g, sodium 525 mg, carbohydrate 23 g, fibre 3.5 g, protein 38 g

Recipe source:

Whitney is a Registered Dietitian with Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer. She is part of a network of more than 90 dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours and recipe ideas at locations across the country. To book an appointment, please visit

Staying Ahead of the Flu with Food

Staying ahead of the flu

With the arrival of Fall comes the excitement of a fresh routine and new activities, but it can also mean the stress of the impending flu season. This year, be mindful of including plenty of immune-boosting foods in your diet and learn which other lifestyle factors can help prevent the flu. These steps not only help us minimize our own odds of getting the flu, but in turn keep us from spreading it to others.

Let’s do what we can this year to make small lifestyle changes that will go a long way in helping us stay ahead of the flu:

1. Get your half plate of fruits and veggies. We know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for so many different reasons, but did you know that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are very important for our immune system as well? Vitamin C is just one form of antioxidant in fruits and vegetables that has a protective effect. Aim to try new fruits and vegetables regularly to ensure you are getting a wide variety.

2. Don’t forget protein foods. Many common food sources of protein like fish, beef, oysters, eggs, beans and nuts and seeds are also rich in zinc. Both protein and zinc are important nutrients for our immune health. Aim to include a source of protein at each meal and snack.

3. Welcome probiotics. Did you know that probiotics in food can help us strengthen our immune system? Look for yogurt and kefir with added probiotics to make sure you have a strong population of friendly bacteria in your gut. We can also get probiotics from supplements. It is best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are considering taking a supplement.

4. Remember to rest. No foods act as a substitute for proper rest! This includes getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you are finding ways to manage your stress. Rest gives our body the chance to recuperate and fight off potential invaders.

5. Get your flu shot. Regardless of our food and lifestyle choices, getting the flu shot is something we should all be doing yearly. The more people who get the flu shot, the less likely it is to be widespread and affect the most vulnerable of people. The flu shot is available at Your Independent Grocer stores where there is an in-store pharmacy.


Whitney is a registered dietitian with Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer. She is part of a network of more than 70 dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours and recipe ideas at locations across the country. Email, call or text Whitney at or (604) 347-6028 with your nutrition questions!

Lunch Prep your way to School Year Success


The back to school season is quickly approaching and whether you have kids or not, fall is always a busy time of year. Since there are still a few weeks left of summer, there is no better time than now to brainstorm and get ahead of the routine change. With a little planning and preparation, back to school lunches don’t have to be difficult. In fact, one of the best ways to simplify prepping your kids’ school lunches is to get them involved in the process!

According to the new Canada’s Food Guide, there are many health benefits to getting kids involved in the meal preparation and cooking process. Some of these long-term benefits include: increased confidence and self-esteem, improved reading and math skills through reading recipes and measuring of ingredients, and development of a greater understanding of what foods are good for overall health. Moreover, children who are more involved in the creation of their meals are more likely to eat their meals and enjoy their foods.

Here are some tips to help you get your kids involved:

1. Plan out your meals and snacks with your kids. Get your kids involved in the process by sitting down with them to have them help decide which favourite recipes and snacks to make for the week before you head to the grocery store. That way, you not only save time and money, but you can stock up on foods from all food groups- vegetables, fruit, whole grains products and proteins- which will provide a basis of nutritious lunches and snacks for both you and your kids. Leftovers of any kind will also make for a perfect next-day lunch, so you can always prepare a little extra the night before and avoid the stress the next morning.

2. Prep/ Simplify your Ingredients. Aim to prepare or cook your meals on Sundays (for Monday-Wednesday meals) and Wednesdays (for Thursday- Sunday meals). If you don’t have time to cook, consider pre-chopping vegetables and fruits or preparing your meats with seasoning ahead of time and placing them in the freezer for later use. This will help reduce prep time time during the week and save you time packing lunches. Remember: extra hands speed up the process, so make sure to get the kids involved and assign tasks to your children every evening to help ensure they help with preparing their lunches (ie. putting pre-cut veggies into a container).

3. Think beyond the Sandwich. Shake up your typical sandwich and try a bento box instead! Bento box lunch kits are such a great way for the kids to have fun and get creative with mixing up their food options. Having the different sections in the lunch kits will also help to ensure that you include food from all food groups- vegetables, fruits, whole grains and proteins- to provide your child with a variety of nutrient-dense foods with essential vitamins and minerals needed for energy, growth and development. Consider trying a themed Bento Box like an Asian noodles inspired box filled with rice noodles and seaweed to start.

If you would like to learn more on how to prepare nutritious lunches and snacks to create a healthy routine and raise a food lover, Whitney, your in-store dietitian, can help to provide great recipe ideas and offer tips on how to get your kids more involved in the planning through store one-on-one consultations, store tours, workshops. She also offers to help you set SMART objectives to support with achieving your nutritious eating goals. To book an appointment, stop by in-store or go to to find a dietitian near to you.

Plant-Based Eating Nutrition Workshop

Have you or someone in your life recently adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet?

Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer is pleased to offer a

Plant-Based Eating Nutrition Workshop

Wednesday, June 19 5-6pm
Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer
Cost: $20

If you are trying to figure out how to cook meatless meals let Hakam’s  in-store dietitian Whitney, reduce your stress and join her for this hands-on nutrition tour & taste!

Plant-Based EatingWalk the aisles to discover healthy alternatives and finish off with a little bit of tasting. You will also receive resources to take home with you. This workshop involves light walking and spots are limited!

Register today with your in-store dietitian:
Whitney Hussain, RD, CNSC

Email or call: 604-347-6028

Let’s help feed our neighbours

Food Bank

Spring is finally in the air!! As we all look forward to wearing less layers of clothing, we can also look forward to gardening plans and summer plans. For many of us, we are very fortunate in the sense that we go to the grocery store to pick up fresh produce and weekly staples as needed to make our weekly meals. This is not always the case for all Canadians.

According to Food Banks Canada’s HungerCount 2018 report, there were 1.1 million visits to food banks in March 2018 and overall, 35 per cent of those who visited the food bank last year were children.

During the winter, donations to the local food bank peak around the holiday season, but they are often at their lowest in the spring and summer months. This spring, as we gather around our dinner tables to eat together with our family and friends, let’s think of our neighbours and share what we can with others.

When grocery shopping, pick up an extra can of PC Blue Menu no salt added beans or vegetables to add to the donation bin at the front of your local store. You could also consider picking up a bag of dried fruit or dried fruit bars. Canned fruit and apple sauce can always be a good option as well, just be sure to look for no sugar added options. When looking at other non-perishable items, consider whole grain cereals that have less than 8 grams of sugar per serving and have more than 4 grams of fibre per serving.

While non-perishable food items are always put to good use, monetary donations are also very useful to local area food banks, as it allows them the flexibility to purchase fresh grocery items such as in-season, local produce, as well as dairy products, meat, and bread.


Whitney is a registered dietitian with Hakam’s Your Independent Grocer. He/She is part of a network of more than 70 dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours and recipe ideas at locations across the country. To book an appointment, please visit