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COLUMN: Make your food donations count this holiday season

Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta e Fagioli

FOODWISE by Courtney Masey

The holiday season has arrived, and what an exciting time it is! Filled with family, friends and at the centre of it all, great food! Food banks are in high demand this time of year, so why not join in on the gift of giving? But remember! With sweets and treats top of mind, much-needed donations of nutritious food are often lacking.

If you are wondering what to donate, start by thinking about what you buy to feed yourself and your family. Why not add an extra item or two to your grocery list? See below for some healthy food donation items that cover every meal of the day.

Breakfast. For the most important meal of the day, start it off right with donations of foods that include more fibre and less sugar. Cereals and granola bars are great breakfast ideas. Make sure you’re choosing one that has less than 8g sugar and at least 4g fibre. Instant oatmeal is another great option! One that meets the sugar and fibre criteria is the new PC Blue Menu Supergrains Oatmeal.

Snacks. It is important for snacks to include a fibre and a protein to keep us feeling full longer. Some non-perishable snack foods that have some fibre include unsweetened applesauce, canned fruit that is packed in water, PC Blue Menu Fruit and Nut granola bars, whole grain crackers such as Triscuits, and popcorn. Some healthier non-perishable protein snacks include roasted chickpeas (you can find these in the natural value section) and nut butters, such as peanut butter.

Lunch and Supper. As with every meal, strive for balance. For lunch and supper half of the plate should be vegetables, one quarter protein and one quarter grains/starches. Canned vegetables make for a great food donation, but as with anything canned, make sure you are choosing a no-salt added option. Canned beans like kidney beans and black beans are also an excellent choice as they contain protein, are high in fibre and are low in fat. These can easily be added to soups, stews and salads.

Another nutritious non-perishable protein to donate is canned fish that is packed in water. To get the whole grains needed in our balanced diet, why not pick up some whole grain pasta or brown rice? Instant brown rice is a great option, as it doesn’t take as much prep time. In addition to these core nutritious ingredients, a donation of no-salt-added broth will enable someone make a hearty, healthier soup! Dried herbs and spices are another healthier donation as they are a great alternative for adding salt to meals.

With all of the demands on everyone’s time during the holiday season, an easy way to donate to your local food bank is while you are grocery shopping. The Atlantic Superstore Holiday Food Drive runs from Dec. 8 to Dec. 24. Look for the in-store donation box, or simply donate at the checkout! Monetary donations will support purchasing additional food as well as helping with other critical costs such as food distribution.

The food drive at the Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow will be giving donations to the Pictou County (East) Food Bank and the Pictou West Food Bank. Thanks so much for your support!

Want to try out a recipe full of nutritious foods that are ideal for donating to the food drive? Pasta e fagioli or “pasta and beans” is pure comfort, and inexpensive, too! The pasta in this hearty vegetarian soup continues to absorb liquid as it sits, so you may want to thin leftovers with some more water or stock.

Pasta e Fagioli

Ingredients

1 cup (250 mL) dry brown lentils

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) PC Blue Menu 100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat Pasta - Macaroni

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) PC Blue Menu Diced Tomatoes

1/2 tsp (2 mL) hot pepper flakes

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

2/3 cup (150 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

In saucepan bring 8 cups (2 L) water to a boil. Add lentils and garlic; reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook macaroni for 7 to 8 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain; set aside.

Stir tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and macaroni into lentil mixture. Simmer just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan, if desired.

 

Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 180 calories, fat 1g (of which 0.1g is saturated), sodium 180mg, carbohydrate 33g, fibre 5g, protein 10g

 

Recipe source: pc.ca

 

Upcoming Event:

Join me at the New Glasgow Atlantic Superstore, Dec. 19, 6-7 p.m. for a class on tips for delicious and healthy eating over the holidays! Contact Courtney to register.

Have a nutrition question? Want to book a personalized consultation for yourself or educational store tour for your community group or business? Contact me by phone at 902-921-0700 or by email at courtney.masey2@loblaw.ca.

 

Courtney Masey is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow.

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