Food & Drink, Food Comment

Chef’s kickoff to a healthy and tasty 2016

Melissa Hryb is the chef at Winnipeg’s Marion Street Eatery. This is her food column, covering everything from the coziest of recipes to that thing you absolutely must start doing, right now. 


Another year has come and gone and our hope is renewed for exciting new adventures, changes and goals. We want to kick bad habits, be healthier and happier! Who doesn’t want to be healthier/better to their body with the food choices they make? I know I do! It is easy to feel inspired. New year, new you. I have been in that boat year after year, but you know what I find? I never follow through.

It is so easy to make excuses for why it’s okay to eat badly or not exercise. Making an excuse is a stress-free way to avoid the hard work required every day. The excuse takes away the guilt, gives us a sense of calm and allows us to avoid the follow-through to reach our goals. I can justify anything if it means I can eat poorly and not hit the gym.

Well, here I am at the beginning of this new year and I want things to change. Here is my plan: instead of setting myself up for failure by trying to change everything at once, I am going to make one healthy choice each day. Put down the soda and drink some more water, grab the snap peas instead of the chips and walk to the store instead of drive my car. One foot in front of the other, so to speak. I hope that after one healthy choice, will come two, three and many more.

I know these changes are going to be tough. Cooking a healthy meal can be challenging. When I leave work after cooking at the Eatery for 10 to 12 hours, the last thing I want to do is cook a delicious healthy meal for myself. Cereal, toast or oatmeal can be my best friend, as they provide a quick fix for my hunger pains. I will strive to do my best, put aside my excuse of being exhausted from my long day at work, and stop taking the easy way out. It is time to start making the effort for my health and well being.

Here is a list of healthy food options I will incorporate in my diet on a more regular basis:

  1. Quinoa – this delicious ancient grain is simple to prepare and is a source of protein. I will prepare this as a side dish or make an easy salad with roasted zucchini, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. This will be quick to grab on the go or a perfect addition to any meal.
  2. Spinach – this leafy green is crammed with vitamins and minerals. This is great for bone, hair and skin health. I will simply eat more spinach in my salads and throw a handful into my morning smoothie. This healthy green is easy to fit in.
  3. Chia seeds – these little seeds are packed with a punch! They provide many nutrients with very few calories. They are high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. I will add these to my morning smoothie, make chia pudding or toss them on top of yogurt to create a healthy snack as an after-work pick-me-up. My favorite thing about chia seeds is how simple they are to incorporate into your day.
  4. Beets – this delicious root vegetable has many vitamins and minerals to keep my immune system healthy. I will roast beets at the beginning of the week and add them into a salad with feta cheese and pumpkin seeds or toss them in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and use them as a side with dinner. They are inexpensive and quick to prepare.
  5. Fresh ginger – this root has great healing power. They aid in digestion, relief from nausea and a sore throat, not to mention boosting your immune system. I will add ginger into my stir frys with chicken or beef and drink a simple concoction of hot water, slices of fresh ginger, a lemon wedges and a smidge of honey.  Ginger root is a powerhouse.
  6. Almond milk – this milk alternative is great for people who count calories. This lower calorie option is filled with vitamins that are good for your muscles, eyes and skin. I will substitute my regular milk with almond milk in cereal and tea and use it in recipes such as muffins, pancakes or soups. This milk is neutral tasting and is an easy way reduce your calories.

This list may seem intimidating, as a few ingredients may be new to you. I am certain that the addition of one or two will help on your path to a healthier lifestyle. Determination, planning and preparation are going to be keys to my success. I am done with my sad excuses and not eating properly. It is time to take one step each day to reach my outcome of being healthier and making more educated food choices. I challenge you to do the same!


Melissa Hryb is the chef at Marion Street Eatery, where she specializes in hearty comfort food with a twist.

Follow her on Twitter @MarionStreetEat or Instagram @MarionStreetEatery