December 1, 2023

Healthy Choice

Healthy Choice The Only Solution

COLUMN: A beginner’s guide to eating healthy this spring

Whether you’re packing a lunch for a picnic at Couchiching Beach Park or preparing dinner for the family, local registered dietitian has some helpful tips

The following article was provided by Brittany McMullan, a registered dietitian at Zehrs Orillia.


As Orillia community members prepare for spring, Nutrition Month is a perfect time to think about foods that fuel our bodies. There is a plethora of nutrition information out there, so it can be challenging to know where to begin.

Whether you’re packing a lunch for day trip to Couchiching Beach Park or preparing dinner for the family, here are my nutrition 101 tips to making informed food choices.

Read food labels before you buy

By law in Canada, all prepackaged food items must include a label with nutrient content. The labels are there to help you make informed choices and the package provides information on serving size, calories, certain nutrients, and percentage daily values (% DV). Five per cent DV or less is a little, whereas 15 per cent DV is a lot. Try to get more fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Aim for less fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and cholesterol.

Use the ‘healthy plate’ approach

Canada’s Food Guide emphasizes eating a variety of healthy foods each day. To do this, your ‘healthy plate’ should consist of half vegetables and fruits, a quarter of protein-rich foods including a focus on plant-based proteins in addition to traditional protein sources, and the remaining quarter should be whole grain foods. You should also make water your drink of choice, but feel free to get creative by adding fruits and veggies to enhance the flavour.

Prepare more meals at home

Including more home cooked meals in your diet helps you understand what ingredients and nutrients are being used in your meals. This will help you reduce the number of added sugars and salts that are often found in prepared foods. Another bonus? It can be a huge money saver to cook your own food.

I am here to help if you are looking for additional support understanding nutrition and developing your nutrition goals. As your local registered dietitian at Zehrs Orillia, I can work with you one-on-one to develop a unique and easy to follow plan. To book a virtual appointment with me, go to

Here’s a healthy recipe to try:

Quinoa Porridge with Gingered Maple Syrup and Pumpkin Cranberry Topping


1 pkg (225 g) quinoa

2 cinnamon sticks

2 thin slices of ginger root, peeled (about 1/8-inch/3 mm thick coins)

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups milk of choice

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (for porridge)

1 cup pure maple syrup (for topping)

1/4 cup roughly chopped peeled ginger root

1/4 pumpkin seeds, toasted

1/4 dried cranberries


Make Porridge: In large saucepan, combine quinoa, cinnamon, ginger, salt, milk, maple syrup and 2 cups water; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until quinoa is very soft.

Meanwhile, make Gingered Maple Syrup: In small saucepan, combine maple syrup, ginger, salt and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain mixture through fine-meshed sieve into small pitcher. Discard ginger.

Prepare Toppings: In small dry frying pan, cook pumpkin seeds over medium-high heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly, or until they puff up and turn golden brown. Cool. In small bowl, stir together seeds and cranberries.

Discard cinnamon sticks and ginger and spoon Porridge into six bowls. Serve with Gingered Maple Syrup, pumpkin seed mixture.