Exploring Canada’s Food Guide: 5 Vegetable & Grain Salads

Canada’s new Food Guide advises that we eat a variety of healthy foods, with an emphasis on vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods, protein foods, and healthy fats. Urban Cottage Life’s new series Exploring Canada’s Food Guide makes it easy for you to put the guidelines into action with reliable and inspiring recipes. Today we offer 5 Vegetable & Grain Salads that combine these two important food groups into a single dish.

Credit: Government of Canada

Canada’s Food Guide Recommendations

Canada’s new Food Guide, issued in late 2018, puts great emphasis on fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods and protein foods. The following statement pretty much sums it up:

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grain foods and protein foods. Choose protein foods that come from plants more often.

Healthy Food Choices, Canada’s Food Guide

The new Food Guide also encourages us to choose foods with healthy fats, limit highly processed foods, make water our main beverage, use food labels, and be aware of food marketing. All very sensible guidelines, with lots of supporting information. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the Food Guide at the links provided above.

One thing that’s notably different about the new Food Guide is the absence of suggested servings. So, while meat and dairy can still be part of a healthy diet, there’s more emphasis on eating a variety of protein foods, including those from plant sources. And as the picture above powerfully illustrates, vegetables and fruits are highly important.

Eating a New Way Forward

The Food Guide reflects how I and many Canadians have been eating in recent years (or at least the direction we’ve been heading). I’ve been a proponent of the Half Your Plate approach to eating for a long time now. I enjoy meat, but most days I don’t eat it. Instead I’ve been relying more on legumes and other plant protein sources. While dairy features in my diet (butter! yogurt!), I stopped drinking milk almost 30 years ago. Fruit is one of my favourite things to eat. And while I enjoy vegetables, I admit I need to work harder at getting enough of those into my diet more regularly.

Food Guide Recommends Healthy Eating Habits

Good eating isn’t just about what we eat, but also how we eat. I appreciate the Guide’s emphasis on healthy eating habits, including:

  • Being mindful of your eating habits
  • Cooking more often
  • Enjoying your food
  • Eating meals with others

Exploring Canada’s Food Guide: Vegetables and Whole Grains

Like most of us, I like recipes that combine different elements of a healthy diet. Yes, I’ve served many traditional meals over the years that consisted of a piece of meat (because didn’t we always plan the meal around the meat?), one or two vegetables, and a helping of rice or bulgur (though, to be honest, that was more likely to be mashed potatoes).

These days, however, it’s far more common to see a salad packed with vegetables and whole grains on my plate, often with some legumes for protein or sometimes with a piece of roasted salmon or a hard-boiled egg on the side.

5 Vegetable and Grain Salads

The wonderful thing about combination salads is that they’re not only nutritious, but also easily portable for lunch at the office or on the go. And you may notice that two of them also contain legumes. Combining grains and legumes supercharges their nutritional power.

Cooking Smart

Pre-cooked grains and lentils, whether on hand in the fridge or freezer, are a boon to making dishes like these. Planning meals ahead also helps you save time. For instance, if you’d like to make a salad that includes roasted sweet potato, why not make a larger quantity than needed for a meal a day or two ahead?

Check Out These Vegetable and Grain Salads!

I’ve selected five salads that feature either quinoa or farro. This has me thinking that I need more variety in my use of grains. But each of these salads is so unique, you won’t get bored!

Why not discover how delicious it can be to explore Canada’s Food Guide?


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