Many of us start the New Year with goals to eat healthier, which is no easy task. Where do you begin? How do you know what to buy? How do you cook that brightly colored vegetable sitting in your grocery cart? Cooking, in a large part, comes from inspiration. You see something online that looks delicious or you see an ingredient in the grocery store that just seems to spark an idea. You go home & you try it out. In the winter that inspiration for fresh, healthy eating seems to disappear a little & we can find ourselves eating unhealthy “comfort” foods.
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s (CPMA) Half Your Plate Program is an excellent example of how easy eating healthy can be. It’s not just about incorporating more fruits & veggies into every meal. It’s about tips, tricks, amazing recipes, and everything you need to make eating healthy easy & delicious. The Half Your Plate Program provides all the necessary resources that you need to take that challenge of eating healthier head on. That’s why I decided to take part in the Half Your Plate Workplace Challenge! The Workplace Challenge encourages everyone to show off #HalfYourPlate, taking top-down photos of your meal showing that half of your plate is filled with produce! At NatureFresh™, our lunches are anything but dull, even in the middle of winter, so we were excited to show off what we have been up to!
Eating healthy isn’t always easy. While many find eating healthy in the winter difficult, it is just a matter of changing your perspective a little. When you walk into a grocery store in the winter, you typically don’t expect to see fresh produce; everything has been shipped in from a far. As a grower, we are fortunate enough to have tomatoes through the winter season thanks to our new state of the art greenhouse facility in Delta, Ohio. We grow OhioRed™ Tomatoes, which includes Beefsteak, Tomatoes on the Vine & Roma as well TOMZ™ Snacking Tomatoes which offers Red Cherry, Red Grape, Yellow Grape, Orange Grape, Mixed Grape & Mixed and Sweet Red Cocktail tomatoes.
The winter time is perfect for cooking meals that are heartier. Tomato stews and roasted Bell Peppers are some of my favorites. It is important to remember to shop seasonally though. Winter is a great time for cabbage or sweet potato salads. For the CPMA Half Your Plate Workplace challenge, I decided to create 4 great recipes: Grilled Cremini with Marinated Bell Peppers, Salmon & Pan Seared Vegetable Medley, White Fish & Quinoa Salad, and Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers. These recipes are all easy to create & will brighten your work day.
The creativity in your recipes is of course entirely up to you and what your family has a preference for. By using a complimentary protein, the real focus is on the veggie side of the plate where traditionally is the most color. I can always remember my grandmother telling me that you needed to have color on your plate as it makes a greater presentation. Now as an adult and working in the culinary industry, the color is one thing that makes a plate attractive, the healthy benefits of those veggies is what I am focused on, we all need to #EatMoreFresh!!!
First I decided to make a Grilled Cremini with Marinated Bell Peppers. This recipe is extremely versatile and can be used for a wide array of meals. The earthy flavor of the cremini with the sweet flavoring of the Bell Peppers makes the perfect pairing. Next up to bat was the Salmon & Pan Seared Vegetable Medley. This recipe is packed full of protein (a must on those long days) and gives you that warm & hearty feeling that we crave in the winter months. After that I decided to create a Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers, which makes a great meal any time of the day. This meal is a leaner and healthier alternative to your classic beef stuffed Bell Peppers. Finally, I decided to create a Pan Seared White Fish & Quinoa Medley. With a fresh & citrus flavor this recipe is sure to remind you of the warmth of the summer months.
My challenge now to you is to fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables. Post a photo online encouraging others to eat more fresh vegetables and don’t forget to tag #HalfYourPlate and @Nature_Fresh (Twitter or Instagram) so we can see your ideas too! Inspiration can come from anywhere, it is just a matter of looking around you.
Keep thinking fresh when you are looking to prep your next meal. Pay special attention at the store to what products you are buying as to who grows them and where they come from, it makes a difference.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram –> @ChefZachLightfoot to see what happens in our kitchen!
– Chef Zach