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What's for supper?

A local nutritionist is helping to make menu planning easier during the pandemic
Juliana Leamen Nutritionist in Kitchener
Photo supplied by Juliana Leamen

With the COVID-19 pandemic requiring people to stay home, and businesses (including restaurants) to close their doors, nutritionist Juliana Leamen is hearing two reoccurring concerns from her clients - both of them centred on food.

"Understandably, stress levels are through the roof," she says, "and people are using food as a mechanism for coping with stress. They are also getting bored, and that causes them to turn to snacking." The other concern Juliana was hearing about had to do with meals and meal preparation. "People are overwhelmed with having to make so many meals at home," she explains. "In some cases they're cooking for more family members now (as kids return from university, etc.). It can feel like they're in their kitchen all day trying to come up with meals, which they may not be used to doing." 

Juliana says people are struggling as they try to figure out how to create meals using what they have on hand. With that in mind, she decided to offer a free Masterclass offering tips and techniques for creating weekly menu plans. Called "Eating Healthy in Under 30 Minutes", Juliana says the class is designed specifically to help make cooking for your family feel less overwhelming. 

"I want to show people that cooking doesn't have to be difficult," she says. "I'm focusing on creating menus that are healthy in an achievable way, using basic items that are available in most pantries." 

Even as a trained nutritionist, Juliana understands the concerns people have around menu planning. Being the primary cook in her home, she is practicing the same strategies she is teaching others, and has had to make some adjustments to her own routines. 

"We're menu planning and then shopping for groceries every second week to keep trips outside of the house to a minimum," she explains. "Some things I would have made from scratch before, I'm now using premade products instead to help simplify things. I just make sure I'm using labels that I know are cleaner." On the Naturally Joyous Instagram account, Juliana has begun posting suggestions on how to 'healthify' premade foods.

To address other questions she is hearing from clients and through her social media channels, Juliana has launched her own Youtube channel. Her channel includes a series of interviews called Quarantine Life and Happy, Healthy & Sane. The interviews include discussions with local small business experts, and address a number of topics including relieving stress, bulk cooking tips, exercising and immunity, and working from home. New videos are posted each week.

At a time where food supplies vary and what's available changes week to week, Juliana says everyone needs to be flexible with what they're getting, and what they're making. To help make meal preparation easier, she offers Take 30 - a Done For You 7-day menu planning service, which includes mix-and-match recipes where ingredients can be swapped out to accommodate what you have on hand, or to accommodate family preferences. It's a flexible menu that can be reused week after week, and the menus are also available on an app which makes them easy to access. Best of all, the menus are healthy and simple to put together, which helps to take the stress out of mealtime preparation. "You don't have to be a chef to prepare these recipes," she says.

Healthy Eating in Under 30 Minutes Masterclass
Friday, April 24, 2020 
7 pm
www.naturallyjoyous.ca




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