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ASK THE NUTRITIONIST: What are affordable recipes with big nutritional bang?

Answering a reader concerned about skyrocketing food prices, nutritionist Nonie De Long shares a few healthy recipes with affordable ingredients
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Dear Readers, this week’s question came from a neighbour who asked me how I can afford to eat healthy with skyrocketing prices. She asked if I had any recipes I could share because grocery shopping had become so stressful for her. So I’ve put together a few recipes I enjoy that have a big nutritional bang for your buck and are not difficult to source or put together.

Canned salmon

Canned Pacific or Alaskan Salmon are superfoods. I do not recommend Atlantic salmon because I’ve been advised that it’s all farmed. Wild salmon is far healthier. Just make sure you don’t remove the skin and bone because that’s where a lot of the nutrients are!

Salmon is packed with nutrients. It contains Omega 3 fatty acids, complete protein, and vitamin D, as well as vitamins B12, B6, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, and phosphorus. Talk about super healthy food!

My favourite meals with canned salmon are salmon cakes and salmon salad on toast. For both, I use homemade one-minute avocado mayonnaise. Avocado oil is expensive, but good quality fat is terribly important for your health. Avocado oil is incredible for your health, and a little mayo goes a long way. It’s much, much healthier than the mayo you get at the store, and store-bought mayonnaise is not cheap either!

For my toast, I use cucumber rounds, sweet bell pepper shells, or carbonaut bread that’s toasted, with a can of drained salmon mixed with celery, onion, sea salt, pepper, a dash of turmeric, avocado mayo, fresh cilantro or dill, and mashed salmon. I make mine open-faced with fresh broccoli sprouts, which are super healthy and super simple to grow at home! This meal is high in protein and Omega 3s! It takes only minutes to prep, and it focuses on whole, nutrient-dense foods. 

Another canned salmon recipe I love is salmon cakes. Here’s the recipe I use:

  • 1 large can of wild-caught salmon, about 15 ounces, drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup minced pork rinds or finely diced nuts/ seeds of choice
  • Avocado oil or coconut oil for frying

Mash all the ingredients together and add a little salt and pepper. Form into balls using an ice cream scoop and flatten in a hot pan with oil. Fry till each side is crispy, then remove to a plate with a paper towel or newsprint to drain excess fat. I serve mine with tartar sauce of avocado mayo and dill weed with dill pickles diced in. Eat over salad greens and top with some sprouts to make it pretty and even more healthy! It’s delicious and, again, full of essential fatty acids. 

As you know, essential fatty acids are incredibly important for overall health, including brain health. I feel it’s important to get them from food when you can.

Cabbage

Another delicious winter recipe uses one of the healthiest and most inexpensive foods you can find - green cabbage! It’s high in potassium, folate, vitamin K and vitamin C. All you need to do is shred it fine with a food processor or mandoline. I prefer the processor because I like my knuckles where they are!

Once the cabbage is shredded, we are going to make a huge, healthy salad for lunch. I have three variations for you to try:

Winter Cranberry Beet Salad

This salad is yummy and easy, with sweet notes. It’s delightful enough to serve guests.

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup toasted whole almonds (I saute mine in a pan with olive oil but you can toast in the oven)
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled cranberry goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of diced pickled beets
  • Olive oil/ balsamic vinegar to top
  • Sesame seeds to top (optional)

Thai cabbage salad

This salad is delicious, but the dressing requires a number of ingredients. Make extra to keep for the following days. Trust me, one time is not enough!

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup of tofu or tempeh (organic, non-GMO) cubes, sauteed in olive oil till crispy
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • half an avocado, diced
  • salad topper: toasted quinoa, currants, sliced almonds, extra fresh cilantro

Peanut lime dressing (just blend these together):

  • 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 tsp sambal oelek (a South Asian chilli sauce) or any chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, densely packed
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari (a type of soy sauce)
  • 1 packet of sweetener or a bit of honey
  • 2 tsp coconut milk or cream
  • 3/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Sweet and spicy chorizo cabbage salad

This salad is warm over cool, so it’s nice for winter gatherings. I use spicy chorizo sausage, but you can also use mild.

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup spicy (or mild) chorizo, cubed and sauteed until hot
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (toast in a pan with a little olive oil until they pop, then add the cranberries in to warm them up)
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato, tossed in garlic salt and oil and roasted till brown in the oven
  • Add the warm ingredients over the cabbage and toss
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic mixture and sprinkle with sea salt

Canned tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and a good source of vitamins A and C and calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They are also very versatile. I like to make mine into a delicious tomato soup.

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 can of ground/ pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can of water
  • Beef bouillon to taste
  • 1 cup whole cream
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed well
  • 1 pack of breakfast sausage, cut into pieces and saute till cooked through

For this recipe, simply sautee the carrots and onions until soft and add garlic and red chilli until it starts to caramelize. Remove from heat and add to the blender with some of the canned tomatoes. Whiz until smooth. Add to a saucepan with the rest of the canned tomato and the black beans. Stir and taste. If it needs flavour, add a bit of beef or vegetable bouillon and stir. Drop the sausage in and add the cream. Adjust the bouillon to taste. Sometimes we top this with diced boiled eggs or sour cream. We prefer to make our soup mealy enough that we don’t need to fill up on bread!

I hope these recipes help. Sometimes a new dish can be the inspiration you need! It’s important to enjoy our food as much as it is to get nutrition from it. These recipes are both nutritious and delicious and do not rely on expensive cuts of meat or vegetables that are difficult to acquire. Try them and let me know if you like them!

Thank you, Nadia, for the question. As always, if you have your own health issue or question, just send me an email at [email protected] And if you’re looking for more specific health information, check out my website at hopenotdope.ca.

Namaste! Nonie Nutritionista



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