Nutrition Month is all about getting Canadians back on track say the Dietitians of Canada

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It’s a new year and a new month, but issues with food insecurity continue.


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So is the messaging from the Dietitians of Canada organization, celebrating its 40th year of Nutrition Month this year. As part of the group’s mandate, this national professional organization looks to create change as well as focus on such issues as food insecurity, literacy  sovereignty and sustainable food choices, in order to create a healthier tomorrow for all  Canadians.

This messaging is particularly powerful, given the plethora of empty store shelves, “shrinkflation” – less product at the same time – reduced shelf life and loss of impact, all issues brought on by the pandemic, and all issues facing Canadians today.

“Almost one in five Toronto households alone deal with food insecurity, which is inadequate access to food due to  lack of money,” says registered dietitian Tracey Frimpong, in a recent email. “The cost of food in Canada has increased by 5.7% in January 2022 – the highest we’ve seen in decades.”


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“Pre-pandemic, an estimated one in eight Canadians were food insecure, meaning they did not have the income to purchase enough food to stave off hunger or follow nutrition recommendations, let alone make special food for a celebration, or host friends for a meal,” added Irena Forbes Karen Giesbrecht, both registered dietitians and co-chairs of the Household Food Insecurity (HFI)  Network at Dietitians of Canada, (

“It will be some time before we know the full impact of COVID-19, but we now think  it is closer to one in seven Canadians who struggle with the financial ability to access food,” added the two in a recent email.

So while the pandemic has been hard on everyone, the risks and challenges have increased significantly for people experiencing poverty. To counter this, many dietitians have expanded their roles, notes the organization, to include learning about and advocating for out-of-the box strategies, including “liaising on tax resources, and providing transportation and childcare for public consultations or post- hospitalization appointments,” said Frimpong, who says that many of the people who are experiencing household food insecurity have lower incomes and are from Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities.


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“These individuals, who were already disproportionately impacted by food insecurity pre-pandemic, have seen their situation become even more challenging with the avenues they rely on, such as food banks, shelters, or community support programs being unable to keep up with demand.”

What can Canadians do to help themselves? “Three ways Canadians can save a penny and still eat healthy include buying in-season local produce or frozen/canned items, choosing the most budget-friendly meat or alternatives such as legumes, and taking advantage of discounts on products which may expire soon or non-perishable items that can be stored longer,” says Frimpong, adding “this in part will also contribute towards reducing food  waste not only in stores but also in our households.”


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“Another tip to reduce food waste is to follow the ‘4 Rs’: Reduce food waste by doing meal planning, replace animal  protein with plant-based protein, recycle veggie scraps to make soup or stock, and reuse foods by eating leftovers,” added registered dietitian Amy Yiu.


Big Batch Cheesy Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie – Foodland Ontario
Big Batch Cheesy Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie – Foodland Ontario Photo by supplied /Foodland Ontario

Big Batch Cheesy Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

This twist on a classic offers a colourful and tasty mealtime solution for eight to ten hungry people. Or make two dinners for four and freeze the second pan to cook from frozen. Or make eight individual 1 cup servings for later use. Recipe courtesy Foodland Ontario. (


4 lb, sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1-1/2 cups shredded Old Cheddar cheese


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1/2 cup milk

Salt and pepper


2 lb. lean ground beef

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups each shredded carrots and zucchini

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

3/4 cup minced onion (about 1 medium)

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper

Topping: In large pot, cook potatoes in boiling water until fork-tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and mash with Cheddar cheese, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.

Filling: Meanwhile, in large frying pan, saute beef over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain off fat. Add garlic, carrots, zucchini, corn and onion; cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. In small bowl, mix together thyme, oregano, mustard and flour; stir into pan along with milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Transfer to two 8-inch square baking dishes; top each with half of potato mixture. (Can be frozen at this point). Bake in 375F oven for 20 minutes, or until heated through and topping is browned


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From Frozen: Bake in 350F oven for 45 minutes or until heated through.

Apple Loaf Cake – Foodland Ontario
Apple Loaf Cake – Foodland Ontario Photo by supplied /Foodland Ontario

Apple Loaf Cake

Apples add freshness to this buttery-maple cake, topped with a maple glaze. Ensure that all ingredients are at room temperature; pull eggs, milk and maple syrup out of the fridge in advance. Serves 10. Recipe courtesy Foodland Ontario (

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup milk

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

2 cups diced unpeeled apples, (Cortland or Crispin suggested)

Maple Glaze:

1/2 cup icing sugar

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

2 tsp. water

Grease 9- x 5-inch metal loaf pan; line bottom and long sides with parchment paper, leaving 2-inches overhang; set aside. In large bowl, using electric mixer, on medium speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 2 minutes. Whisk in eggs one at a time; whisk in maple syrup and milk.

In separate large bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in apples. Scrape batter into loaf pan. Bake in 325F oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack

Maple Glaze: In medium bowl, whisk together icing sugar, maple syrup and water. Drizzle over top of cake.



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