Do you love shopping at Loblaws as much as I do? I tell you, it’s simply a paradise for a foodie like me! I’m there at least 2-3 times a week. There are just so many fantastic products to choose from going from the simple to the gourmet. I love that I can go there for all kinds of locally grown foods,including organic, as well as international treats. And, you’re not stuck with pre-packaged foods either. There’s a butcher counter, seafood counter, deli counter, and bakery. Finally, if you have special nutritional needs, you’ll find an extensive health food section and selection of gluten free, vegan, and low calorie/low fat items. Check out my full shopping trip at Loblaws in my Google+ photo album.
What I really love even more than everything else is the increased focus I see in Loblaws on healthier eating. Besides the many many choices in fresh healthy foods, they offer support for those wanting to develop better nutritional habits. I discovered classes at the Loblaws Cooking School teaching students how to make foods that taste decadent but pack a nutritional punch. I found out that they now have an onsite dietitian who offers presentations, grocery tours, shopping cart makeovers, meal planning, and personal nutrition checkups. I also noticed signs and brochures throughout the store to guide the shopper towards these services and making healthier food choices in their shopping.
For example, Loblaws has instituted this Guiding Stars system in their Ontario stores. It’s not really practical to carry around a copy of Canada’s Food Guide and refer to it constantly as we’re shopping. Well this star system is a really quick way of knowing which foods are the more nutritious ones. Basically, foods are given one, two, or three stars based on their nutritional value – meaning they have more vitamins, minerals, fibre, whole grains, and omega-3s and less saturated fat, trans fat, added sodium, and added sugar. Look for the brochures and sins at Loblaws or check the Guiding Stars website for more information.
I decided to take advantage of as many of these services offered by Loblaws as I could so I began by making an appointment with Melissa, the in-store dietitian. I’ll be seeing her next week to go over my food diary that I’ve begun keeping and get her help with finding ways to make my eating habits healthier. In the meantime, I attended one of the “What’s For Dinner” classes at the Cooking School. What a great deal it is! You pay $10 to register but they give you a $10 Loblaws gift card in return. The class was an hour long and was not only filled with great recipes and cooking tips from the chef, but Melissa was on hand to offer insight into the nutritional value in the recipes.
The main dish they made at the Loblaws Cooking School class was Warm Lentil Salad (can also be served cold or at room temperature). It was delicious and could be used as a vegetarian main dish or a side dish. It was quick and easy to make a large quantity and that, along with being able to serve it at any temperature, makes it a really wonderful dish to use for a holiday gathering or to take for a potluck. It already has great nutritional content but I decided to give it a little boost and turn it into an all-in-one main dish. (Note: they also made cranberry muffins for us and let us sample the new Salt Kissed Dulce de Leche Brownie from the most recent winner of the Recipe to Riches TV show competition).
Warm Lentil and Quinoa Salad
(adapted from the Warm Lentil Salad recipe taught at Loblaws President’s Choice Cooking School)’
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced (they used red onion- I chose to use sweet Vidalia simply out of preference)
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
(they included 1 sweet red pepper, diced but I omitted that simply because I have trouble eating peppers)
1 small eggplant (I used a graffiti eggplant to add colour), diced
1 small zucchini, diced
salt and pepper to taste if desired (no pepper because the feta cheese I’m using has cracked black pepper in it and I find that the cheese is salty enough for me)
lentils (they used 2 cans, each 19 oz but this really increased the sodium content – so I’m using dried lentils that I cook myself) – about 4 cups cooked lentils
quinoa – I found a President’s Choice Bulgur and Quinoa Blend at the store that sounded delicious so I decided to try it – about 2 1/2 cups cooked
juice of half to one whole lemon to brighten up the flavour
The recipe called for the PC Mediterranean Vinaigrette but they were sold out. So that day they substituted the PC Zesty Italian Vinaigrette. I’m using the same one except in the Blue Menu Fat Free version. This also brought the sodium content down by quite a bit. I used about 3/4 cup
about 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
feta cheese for topping the salad – I used Kraft Feta with Sundried Tomatoes and Cracked Peppercorns – I put about a tablespoon or two on each serving
Instructions: Cook the lentils and the Bulgur/Quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat up the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions, carrots, and celery for about 5 minutes. Add in the eggplant and zucchini and cook for an additional 3 minutes until tender-crisp. Stir in the lentils and bulgur/quinoa and remove from heat. Stir in the vinaigrette, lemon juice, and parsley. Top with feta cheese and serve.
Makes 8 servings: Approximate nutritional values per serving – 310calories, fat 8 g, sodium 300 mg, carbohydrate 50 g. fibre 9 g, protein 15 g
I learned from Melissa that lentils are a good source of iron and fibre – the bulgur and quinoa blend boosts that even more. If you choose to add meat or serve meat with this dish (we tried out the ___________ Turkey Sausages), the combination of meat and legumes (the lentils) work in tandem to help you absorb even more of the iron. The vitamin C in the vegetables helps with this as well.
You can find out more about Loblaws including recipes, cooking school schedules, making healthier choices, and more here:
“I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ #CBias #SocialFabric All opinions and ideas are my own”