Nutrition Pathway, Cheryl Corry, RD, is pleased to introduce our guest blogger, dietetic intern, Danielle. Danielle is completing her Diploma of Dietetic Education and Practical Training at Brescia University College and her dietetic internship at Hamilton Health Sciences. Welcome to our blog Danielle!
We've all been there: you’re coming off a LONG day of work…not only are you getting home way later than you thought but you are exhausted. You don’t have time to go to the grocery store but dinner is on the brain… what to do? Do you make the easy choice to hit that fast food joint? What if you had a dinner option that was more balanced, required minimal effort and was healthy? How about the fact that you could make it with the foods you already have in your fridge or pantry? With these delicious and nutritious dinner options, you’ll feel a little more at ease with those “What do we have for dinner tonight?” nights!
I am going to share some easy and quick dinner ideas that you can make with some pretty common pantry staples! Full disclosure… I hate throwing out food so I am known to put together some pretty crazy dishes to use up all the food lying around. One thing I always have on hand are things like canned beans, peas and lentils. They are an excellent source of plant-based protein which also makes them a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option. In addition, they are also great sources of dietary fibre (essential for gut health) and vitamins and minerals. Studies have also shown that including food sources of soluble fibre in your diet such as these, may be helpful in reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Beans, peas and lentils are super diverse and can be used in SO many ways. I love to make all types of bean dips that I use to dip crackers or veggies in or spread on sandwiches or wraps. You can also add them to soups or salads to add texture, flavour and nutritional content. I recently became aware of a chickpea salad sandwich (think similar idea of egg salad!). Nothing is off the table with these babies! This recipe for a chickpea salad sandwich takes less than 15 minutes to make, is nutritionally dense and can be customized to your preferences. Pair it with some veggies as a side dish and try it out!
Chickpea Salad Sandwich Recipe (download)
With cooler months on the way, soups are making their way back into my repertoire of dinner meal ideas. I love finding ALL of the fresh produce at farmers markets and spending Sunday afternoons whipping up ALL the fall soups. Making big batches and separating into containers like Mason jars can be great for those days where you don’t want to have to cook- pour the soup in a saucepan, warm it up and BOOM! You now have a healthy, fresh, homemade meal.
A great alternative to this is using a store-bought canned soup you already have in your pantry and “beefing it up” a bit. Using your classic canned soups as a base, adding items like spices, veggies, noodles, rice, beans and lentils will transform the “blah” soup into something that feels gourmet! One thing to remember is that the sodium content of canned soup can be quite high, up to 480 mg in one serving (21% of the daily sodium value in a 2000 calorie daily diet). A can of soup is usually 2 servings so one can of soup is 960 mg of sodium…EEK! Luckily there are alternatives that offer reduced or lower sodium options, which is what I would recommend when looking for canned soup in the grocery store. Check out my favourite beefed up tomato soup recipe below! It boasts fibre, plant-based protein, whole-grain carbs and vitamins and minerals from the veggies- what more do you need?!
Tomato Soup Recipe (download)
One of my FAVOURITE appetizers at restaurants are crab cakes and one of my FAVOURITE sandwiches is salmon salad. Using canned salmon, which is very reasonably priced at less than $4.00 a can, you can make your own take on Salmon Patties. These take less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish and can be served “burger” style on a whole-wheat bun or on their own. Canned salmon is a great nutritional option as it contains omega-3 fatty acids and is rich in protein, vitamin D and calcium. Like with canned soup, look for lower-sodium options but you really can’t go wrong with any type of salmon. Canned salmon has a shelf life of up to 3 years when stored properly making it definitely something to keep on hand for when you’re in a pinch!
The recipe attached here for Salmon Patties was derived from Erin Clarke’s recipe at Well Plated. I have made a few modifications but I really liked how she kept it very Mediterranean-inspired using Greek yogurt and lemon. Pair these with any type of salad, chopped veggies, or even baked fries for an easy crowd-pleaser.
Salmon Patty Recipe (download)
I hope this gives you a few new, in-a-pinch dinner ideas to get you through those long tough nights. Don’t forget to contact Cheryl Corry, RD for help with meal planning ideas!
On a personal note, as my internship rotation with Nutrition Pathway comes to a close, I just wanted to thank Cheryl for her mentorship, support and guidance over the last month. I would also like to thank all of you, THE READERS for taking the time to read my blog posts! I am very grateful for not only this experience but for all of you for coming with me on this part of my journey in becoming a Registered Dietitian!
Wishing you all the best in health and nutrition,