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Nutrition Matters

by Jennie Orr

About The Author

Nutrition Matters: Helping you meet your nutrition goals in the kitchen, in the gym, and on the run.
Jennie Orr p.dt NSDA# 1362

Crock-pot chili, your cure for the winter blahs

With the winter months come the winter blahs. Training increases for a spring race, work gets busy, and – let’s be honest - the last thing anyone wants to do when they get home on a cold winter’s night is cook.
When the Tim Hortons or McDonald’s drive-thru is beckoning your name, try this delicious, nutritious and go-to recipe that even cooks itself while you are at work. Come home after an evening of workouts and picking up kids to a delicious, hot, and nutritious meal that is ready for you the minute you step in the door. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?
If you have not already invested in a crock-pot, I promise you it is well worth the purchase. Wal-Mart, Kitchen Sense, and even Costco carry all sorts of different crock-pots to suit your needs. This little pot is a lifesaver, especially for hectic and busy schedules.
What should you put in this magic pot? What nutrients or food groups should you focus on? I Do not worry. You don't need to go over budget, or buy expensive foods to make a good hearty meal for you and your family.

Lets Get Started:

While doing your grocery shopping this week, make sure to pick up some veggies, a starch, and some kind of meat. That is all you need - no fancy ingredients or special foods required. When choosing vegetables, try to choose in season as these are cheaper. A few examples for this time of year would be turnip, carrots, onions, and potatoes. If you are still craving some zucchini or broccoli, try the frozen aisle… yes I said the dreaded "frozen" word. Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh. In fact, sometimes they may even be better. Frozen veggies are picked and frozen during peak season and all the nutrients and minerals we like to get from our veggies are preserved in this freezing process. If you are thinking about spending a lot of money on out-of-season fruits or veggies, remember their frozen counterparts have just as many nutrients, if not more, and are a lot cheaper. While looking for veggies, always check the labels to ensure no salt or sugar has been added, Some, not all, companies add sugar, salt, or seasonings to add taste.
Next, look for a starch, whether it is a rice, a pasta, or a potato. Look for starches that are whole grains. If you are unsure, ask the produce clerk or check the label, if the product has a label. The first ingredient should be whole wheat, and there should be low sugar, less than five grams, as well as a lot of fiber - greater than three grams per serving.
To finish off the meal, decide on a protein, whether it be beans, lentils, chicken, pork, fish or lean ground beef. Check the frozen aisles as well as the deli market for fresh fish and meats. Choose in-season meats, and, when buying meat, always check the best before date, as well as the day it has been packaged. Choose lean cuts of meat or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel to get lots of protein, less saturated fat, and good omega 3 fats.
Now comes the easiest part : choose a sauce. I like using tomato sauce, as it is so versatile, but you can use whatever you like. If you are going to make a tomato sauce, look for whole diced tomatoes or tomato paste, low in sodium and added sugar. Check the back of the can - if it has more than 10 per cent sodium or added sugars per serving, try and find a better alternative.
Next, dump the sauce along with your veggies, meat, and starch into the crock-pot. Mix everything well, and add  whatever spices you like. Some examples are: oregano, parsley, cinnamon, garlic, or even basil. This will give your meal flavour, or, if you like it spicy, add some hot sauce or Sirracha. Turn on your crock-pot, and – bam - eight hours later you have a nutritious, delicious, and super easy meal. Did I mention there will probably be some leftovers too? Crock-pots are a great way of batch cooking and you can freeze the portions you don't use for another day. Hands up if you like to take meals out of the fridge and just reheat.

This is one of my favourite crock-pot recipes. Give it a try. Your family, and your running body will thank you. You might even get your running buddies asking if they can come over for supper after practice.
Until next time, remember Nutrition Matters.


1 lb lean or extra lean ground turkey
2, 15 ounce cans of tomato sauce
1, 15 ounce can of black beans
1, 15 ounce can of chickpeas
1, 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2-3 large bell peppers of different colours
3 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
2 large onions cut
2 cups corn (this is where you can use the frozen stuff :))
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper (spicy)
2 cups of whole grain brown rice