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FOOD WISE – By Courtney Masey: Grown near you: Choosing local produce

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

If you were to ask me what I like about this time of year, my list would likely go on for longer than you’re interested in reading. But one of my favourite parts about the summer season is getting to eat fruits and vegetables that are grown right in our backyards.

When it comes to grocery shopping, why should you buy local, you ask? Let’s look at some of the key reasons.

Fresher Taste and More Nutrition – Local food is often riper, as it has more time to grow on its vine, rather than being picked early to allow time for ripening during transport. Because of this, local produce often tastes fresher, adding extra flavour to your favourite dishes. Also, the sooner you eat your produce after it has been harvested, the more nutrients it retains for you to eat.

Environmentally Responsible – When food is sold locally, it does not have to travel as far, leaving a smaller carbon footprint from farm to table. On top of that, local food often has less packaging, reducing overall waste. And when we support local farming, we also provide a reason for land to be used for more crops, helping to maintain our green spaces.

Economically Supportive – A final key reason to buy local is to support our local economic development. When we buy food from local producers, they are able to hire more people and invest in their operations, which in turn helps to grow our economy. In addition, local produce is often cheaper for the consumer compared to that which is shipped from far away. By working with our local farmers, we are also strengthening our communities by bringing people together to work towards a common goal. Loblaw takes great pride in working with local farmers, fishers and other producers in the Maritimes and across Canada.

Our farmers work long and hard to grow and harvest fresh produce, and Atlantic Superstore is proud to celebrate them with the “Near You” campaign. This program is designed to help you spot local food within the grocery store. In the produce section, look for the “Near You” signs to easily spot local fruits and veggies. Atlantic Superstore is proud to have longstanding partnerships with over 40 local producers from across our region who supply local produce to our stores in season – and sometimes even year round.

Atlantic Superstore works with many farmers across Nova Scotia, including Annapolis Valley producers such as Melvin Farms near Canning, Den Haan Greenhouses in Lawrencetown, and Van Meekeren Farms in Lakeville for delicious Honeycrisp apples – just to name a few!

Although summer is nearing its end, this doesn’t mean the end of local produce. We will continue to stock local fruits and vegetables well into the Fall season, including apples, potatoes, squash, cabbage, cauliflower and more.

Want to stock up on local fruits and veggies to save for the colder months? No problem. Try canning or freezing your favourite produce. When canning food, watch out for how much salt and sugar you are adding. When freezing fresh produce, such as blueberries or rhubarb, grab a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper, spread out your fruit or veggie of choice and freeze it. This reduces the risk of your produce sticking together. Once frozen, toss them in a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer. Most fruits and vegetables can be frozen for up to 12 months.

Looking for a way to use fresh local blueberries? With the new school year fast approaching, try these Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins. These moist and delicious muffins are great for the lunch box and they have a surprising ingredient – Greek yogurt! The batter is thick, but they bake up nice and light. Pair them with some cheese or nut-free soy butter for protein and fresh fruit for a nutrition-packed lunch. Remember, whenever possible, it’s always a good idea to choose local fruits and veggies over produce that has to be shipped long distances.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups (375 mL)  PC Organics Whole Wheat Flour

¾ cup (175 mL)  packed brown sugar

½ cup (125 mL)  PC Organics Quick Oats

1-1/2 tsp (7 mL)  baking soda

1-1/3 cups (325 mL)  PC Plain 0% M.F. Greek Yogurt

¼ cup (50 mL)  skim milk

1 tbsp (15 mL)  extra virgin olive oil

1  egg

1 tsp (5 mL)  finely grated lemon rind

1-1/2 cups (375 mL)  PC Canadian Wild Blueberries

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Spray 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

2.     In large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, brown sugar, oats and baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, oil, egg and lemon rind; with wooden spoon, stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in frozen blueberries. Scoop into prepared muffin tin, filling cups about 2/3 full.

Makes 12 servings

Per serving: 170 calories, fat 2g (of which 0.4g is saturated), sodium 180mg, carbohydrate 34g, fibre 3g, protein 6g

– Recipe source: pc.ca

Upcoming event: Join me on Aug. 28, 6 to 7 p.m. at the Truro Atlantic Superstore, for a store tour to learn about the benefits of plant-based eating and enjoy a tasty food sample. Registration is required. Call or email Courtney at the contacts below to reserve your spot.

Have a nutrition question? Want to book a free appointment or educational store tour for yourself or your community group or business? Contact me by phone at (902) 921-0700 or by email at courtney.masey2@loblaw.ca.

Courtney Masey is a registered dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in Truro.

 

 

 

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