The new Canada Food Guide builds on the 1980’s version by using a science-based approach for its recommendations, replacing the complex calculations of serving sizes with simple suggestions for healthy eating:

• Half of your diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables.

• Protein foods (vegetarian and meat) should make up a quarter of your diet.

• Whole grains make up the remaining quarter of your diet.

• Drink water instead of sweet beverages (and even 100 per cent juice is a sweet drink).

• Take time to cook and eat with others.

You can find a full description of the new food guide at food-guide.canada.ca.
Involving your children in planning and preparing meals is the best way to teach them how to make healthy food choices. Eating meals as a family is important for modelling good eating habits as well as forming strong social connections with your children.

Here are three dishes that work together for a Mediterranean-inspired meal that also satisfy some of the new Food Guide recommendations. The focus is on fresh vegetables and flavourful dishes. Each of the recipes includes suggestions as to how you can get your children involved in the meal prep. Cook together, eat together and enjoy delicious and nutritious food.

Hummus
Hummus is a cheap and easy protein that kids usually love. Making your own hummus means that you can flavour it in whatever way you want. So skip the garlic if your kids are sensitive to strong flavours. Hummus is so easy to make that any child old enough to work a hand blender or food processor can pretty much make it all on their own.

1 can of chickpeas
1/2 cup tahini light paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
2 Tbsp olive oil

Optional flavour additions that can be blended into the hummus or sprinkled on top:
Roasted red peppers
Pesto
Mixed chopped olives
Roasted pine nuts
Za’atar spice mix

1. Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Purée with a hand blender or in a food processor.
2. Add a 1/4 cup of water. Then add more water 1 Tbsp at a time until you have a smooth dip.
3. Top with olive oil.
4. Serve the hummus with vegetable sticks and triangles of whole grain pita bread.

Easy Spanakopita
This spanakopita is made with lasagne noodles rather than filo. It’s really easy to make and just as delicious as the more traditional version. Have your children help you with mixing the ingredients and layering the spanakopita.

2 Tbsp olive Oil
2 packages of frozen spinach
6 spring onions
1 medium red onion
1 box of lasagne noodles
¾ cup fresh dill
¾ lbs feta cheese
3 eggs
½ cup of mozzarella

1. Defrost the spinach and drain the extra liquid.
2. Finely slice the spring onions and the red onions.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until any remaining liquid has cooked off, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and leave it to allow to cool while you boil your lasagne noodles. You only need enough to make two layers of noodles in your pan, so around 6 sheets.
5. When the spinach mix has cooled, stir in the dill, feta and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Exactly how much salt you need will depend on the saltiness of the feta, but you probably only need 1/4 tsp.
6. Cover the bottom of a small square pan (around 8"x 8") with a drizzle of olive oil, then cover it with a layer of lasagne noodles.
7. Cover the noodles with all of the spinach and feta mixture. Then cover with a second layer of lasagne noodles.
8. Top the noodles with the grated mozzarella.
9. Bake at 350?F for 30-45 min.

Mediterranean Salad
Greek Salad is perfect for a Mediterranean meal. The list of ingredients in the recipe is longer than usual, so you can let your children pick and choose their favourite vegetables. The best type of salad is one that everyone will enjoy. Even young children can help with coarsely chopping the vegetables for this salad. While a sharp knife is needed to chop the carrots and onions, even a dull knife can slice cucumbers and peppers.

Dressing
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil

Salad
1 cucumber
1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
2 field tomatoes
1 carrot
1 small red onion
1 head of lettuce
1/2 cup of black olives
1/2 cup of feta cheese

1. Mix all of the salad dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Coarsely chop the cucumber, peppers and tomatoes.
3. Grate the carrot.
4. Finely slice the red onion. (Don’t include the red onion if your children find the flavour too strong.)
5. Mix all the vegetables in the dressing and leave them to marinate.
6. Wash and dry the lettuce. Rip it up and put it on top of the marinating vegetables.
7. Top the lettuce with the black olives and feta cheese.
8. Toss everything just before serving.

Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.