Nunavut promotes easy, healthy recipes
“There’s been quite a positive response"
Shopping for healthy store-bought food is easy.
That’s the message the health and social services department of the Government of Nunavut sent out to all Nunavut communities, which have received 10 new recipes for healthy meals.
These include recipes for fish chowder, stir fries, baked omelette, meaty macaroni, barley soup, roast pork, pizza, caribou stew, baked Arctic char and chicken and rice or peas.
Every month, for the next 10 months, a new recipe will be featured in stores, including Arctic Ventures and North Mart in Iqaluit.
That means stores will put the recipes in flyers, put items on sale and let people taste test the foods.
“There’s been quite a positive response,” Nunavut’s territorial nutritionist, Jennifer Wakegijig said of the fish chowder recipe released Sept. 20.
The goal: to teach people cooking skills and to help people find ways to cook confidently with store-bought foods.
“A variety of skills are included in here that people have told us they need,” she said.
Nunavut residents want to learn how to roast meat, such as whole chickens.
So, there’s a picture of every step of the recipe in step-by-step booklets “to try to really make people feel confident that they can do this.”
The recipes include big colourful pictures, the amount of servings, how long the food takes to prepare and cook and food safety tips.
“Peas rich in fibre. Fibre helps us stay full longer,” reads one tip.
There are also food safety tips indicating the importance of proper hand washing.
“Sometimes we learn that people aren’t sure how to cut up certain vegetables or which parts you eat and which part you throw away. We’re hoping that through seeing these recipes and trying them out, people will start to gain confidence in those skills,” Wakegijig said.
The need for the recipes is based on results from the Inuit health survey, which found that Nunavummiut make poor choices when buying food at the store.
“It’s the choices that people are making at the store that are sometimes causing health problems,” Wakegijig said.
This includes drinking two to four cans of pop a day and eating “quite a bit of highly refined processed foods.”
Nunavummiut also eat a lot of prepared foods, Wakegijig said.
If one thing is clear, it’s that people in Nunavut also want access to more country food.
“Several of [the recipes] feature country food prominently or they say you could make this recipe with beef or caribou,” Wakegijig said.
These were developed “in Nunavut kitchens,” she said.
A DVD, “Cooking Healthy Food” by Rebecca Veevee has also been sent to community health representatives. It details each recipe and shows how to make them.
Stores may decide to offer discounts, but, in any event, the recipes will be promoted.
However, a single serving of one of these recipes is under five dollars which would cost less than a prepared sandwich, “which we know people consume a lot of.”
The project also attempts to teach people about food budgeting.
“We’re trying to encourage people to see both the health benefits and some of the cost savings that can be achieved by nutritious foods and preparing them at home,” Wakegijig said.
Rick McDougall of the North West Co., the Northmart store manager in Iqaluit, who has tried the fish chowder, said the recipes are simple and should be a success.
“What I really like about the recipes is that they’re so simplified, some of the people have already tried them and say they could not believe something simple could taste so good,” said McDougall, adding that targeting the youth is important.
So far, the fish chowder recipe has been popular.
“[The response] been overwhelming so far, every month we’re going to feature [a recipe], and there’ll be somebody there when each new recipe comes out to explain it,” he said.
Regional manager of Arctic Co-operatives Limited, Stephane Daigle agrees.
“This will definitely help us relate better to the communities,” he said.
The recipes are available online.
Copies of the “Cooking Healthy Food” DVD will be sent to community libraries though the project, funded by Health Canada and Nutrition North Canada.