Canadians pay for bad diet

I’ve recently been following the series Village on a Diet on CBC TV Monday nights, that shows the residents of Taylor, B.C. trying to lose a ton of weight and get fit.

  • Feb. 1, 2011 6:00 a.m.

I’ve recently been following the series Village on a Diet on CBC TV Monday nights, that shows the residents of Taylor, B.C. trying to lose a ton of weight and get fit.

I’m certain they are no different than many small or larger towns in any province in Canada. But what has struck me the most, isn’t so much the weight problem, but that so many of the younger to middle age women have never learned to cook from scratch, nor do they seem to realize or understand how important good nutrition is in maintaining their own health or in raising healthy children. If you’re not taught at home or in school, where do you get your ideas of what’s good or bad?

To be sure, it’s from the big American (and to be fair, some Canadian) food processors who spend millions advertising and promoting their particular brand of time saving, easy-to-make, fattening and addictive meals that they deem to be “healthy.”

Our country’s overall lack of nutritional knowledge is showing up in an ever-growing increase of obese Canadians, in cases of Type 2 diabetes unheard of two generations ago, in more allergies and sensitivities, in more heart disease and cancers, to name but a few. It’s time we all took a good look at what controls our food choices. It’s time to go back to eating real food. Today’s homemade dishes will warm the soul and comfort the body on these cold winter days. The meatloaf recipe saves big in the calorie and fat departments and offers extra fiber, thanks to the oatmeal and potato skins. Today’s second recipe is a bread pudding that everyone will enjoy for breakfast or dessert.

Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/2 cup grated carrot

1 lb. ground round or sirloin, or ground turkey

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1/2 cup uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup Parmesan

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 large egg whites

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/3 cup chicken broth

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

Topping

1-1/2 cups pasta sauce (such as Classico Fire-Roasted Tomato & Garlic Sauce), heated

6 basil leaves

Mashed Potatoes

4 large Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and cut into small pieces

1/2 cup skim milk

3 tbsp. light sour cream

3 tbsp. light (reduced-fat) butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1-1/2 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

For meat loaf preheat oven to 375 F. Pour wine into medium skillet and cook onion, pepper and carrot over low to medium heat for 15 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly, using hands. Spoon in vegetables and liquid from skillet. Shape mixture into a loaf approximately 5-inches wide, 10-inches long, and 3-inches high. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan (or loaf pan) with cooking spray, then fill with mixture. Bake 1 hour; let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Top each slice with 1/4 cup warmed pasta sauce and basil leaf.

For Mashed Potatoes: bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and simmer 15 minutes or until they are cooked through. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl. Using a potato masher or hand mixer, combine remaining ingredients. Serve warm with meat loaf.

Bread Pudding

6 slices day-old bread

2 tbsp, butter, melted

1/2 cup raisins, cranraisins or dried fruit of your choice

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

3/4 cup white sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Break bread into small pieces into an 8-inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. Sprinkle with dried fruit or raisins.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until well-mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.