woman looking at bottle in grocery store aisle, while wearing a face mask

Despite Being Home More, Canadians Are Only Slightly More Food Literate Than Pre-COVID

From dalgona coffee to sourdough to focaccia bread art, it may seem like Canadians are spending more time learning about food and getting creative in the kitchen, but a recent survey from Dalhousie University suggests that may not be true for most Canadians. 

In fact, the study from the university’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab seeking to determine if Canadians are any more food literate since the start of the pandemic found that we only have slightly greater understanding of how food choices impact our health, our community, the environment and the economy.

woman looking at bottle in grocery store aisle, while wearing a face mask

Being food literate means having the mindset, the knowledge and the related skills to make more informed decisions when navigating meal planning. Of the 10,004 Canadians surveyed, only about 40 per cent were able to explain what food literacy means.

Furthermore, mealtime at home during the pandemic may not be getting any easier, despite the greater amount of time people are spending at home; the report reveals that only 37.5 per cent of surveyed Canadians feel their meal planning skills improved during the pandemic.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

While cookbook sales might have spiked over the course of 2020, only 36 per cent of Canadians learned a new recipe and only about one-quarter (24 per cent) say they’ve made all of their meals. 

The study’s authors believe part of the reason may be the emotional and psychological toll the pandemic is exacting on home cooks

But there is some good news: slightly more than half (56 per cent) of the respondents shared they are making most of their meals since the pandemic began, while nearly half of those surveyed said they’ve tried a new ingredient, whether it be a spice (68 per cent), veggies (37 per cent) or oils (28 per cent).

The study’s lead author and director of the lab, Sylvain Charlebois, acknowledged that cooking is an act of empowerment that allows individuals to take control of what they eat. 

If you’re hoping to improve your own food literacy, here are some healthy meal prep ideas to get you through the week ahead

eggplant parm dip in cast iron next to toasted bread

This Vegetarian, Gluten-Free Eggplant Parm Dip is the Perfect Dish for Date Night at Home

Elevate your next date night at home with a crunchy take on the classic eggplant parm. Warm, comforting, cheesy and crispy, our Dining In dip recipe — inspired by the eggplant parm at 416 Snack Bar in Toronto — has everything you love about the original dish, now with a dippable twist! Made by layering tomato sauce, roasted eggplant, mozzarella cheese, ricotta, Parmesan and a crispy quinoa topping, this simple, yet decadent dish is the ultimate oven-to-table meal served family-style with toasted bread for easy scooping.

eggplant parm dip in cast iron next to toasted bread

Eggplant Parm Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup quinoa
Sea salt
2 cans (746 ml) San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil, plush additional for serving
1 large eggplant, cubed
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
3 Tbsp butter, divided
6 slices sourdough bread

eggplant parm dip ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Rinse quinoa under cold water. Add to a small pot with 1 ½ cups water and lightly season with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked through and water is absorbed.

roasted quinoa on baking tray

3. While the quinoa is cooking, you can start the tomato sauce: pour tomatoes into a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat, then add garlic and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium low and add basil. Cook for 15 minutes, then season with salt to taste and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, toss eggplant with 2 Tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp of sea salt. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Related: Romantic Date Night Recipes to Make at Home

5. Toss cooked quinoa with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Place both the eggplant and quinoa in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the eggplant is caramelized and the quinoa is lightly browned and crispy. Set aside and lower oven temperature to 375°F.

6. Spread tomato sauce in the base of a 12-inch cast iron skillet or 9-inch square baking dish. Layer with eggplant and top with dollops of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese overtop, leaving the ricotta peeking through. Finish with a handful of Parmesan and the crispy quinoa. Place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted, ricotta is just turning golden and quinoa is crisp.

eggplant parm dip ingredients deconstructed on kitchen countertop

7. While the eggplant parm dip is baking, heat a skillet on medium and melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Lay 2 slices of bread in the pan and fry until golden brown on both sides. Set aside on a wire rack and repeat process with remaining bread slices. Cut bread in halves or quarters.

8. Before serving, finish with a sprinkling of additional basil and Parmesan. Place the dip family-style in the middle of the table with bread tucked in the sides of the pan and a spoon for serving.

eggplant parm dip in cast iron

Here are more gooey, melty ways to get your cheese fix.

Watch the how-to video here:


Curry shrimp and rice in white bowl on top of green tea towl

This Easy Jamaican Curry Shrimp Recipe Takes Just 35 Minutes!

Jamaican curry shrimp is a fast and delicious way to spice up your lunch or dinner routine. The bright flavours of Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme and colourful bell peppers can make even the coldest winter days feel a bit less gloomy. This recipe includes some unexpected additions like lime juice and ketchup that add a delicious tang to the curry shrimp. Ketchup is often used in Caribbean kitchens and is perfect when you need a bit of tang and sweetness or if you’ve run out of tomatoes like me. Serve this up with a bowl of rice or fresh paratha and enjoy.

Curry shrimp and rice in white bowl on top of green tea towl

Jamaican Curry Shrimp

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Ingredients:

500 grams shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 bell peppers (green and red)
½ onion
1 Tbsp grated ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs green onion
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
3 ½ Tbsp Jamaican curry powder, divided
3 sprigs thyme
½ cup coconut milk
½ vegetable bouillon cube (optional))
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 lime
Salt to taste
1 tsp cornstarch (optional)

Curry shrimp ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Place cleaned, deveined and peeled shrimp in a bowl.

2. Cut the bell pepper and onion into thin slices and set aside. Then grate the ginger, mince the garlic and finely chop the green onions and Scotch bonnet pepper.

Curry shrimp ingredients on kitchen countertop

3. Season the shrimp with 2 Tbsp of Jamaican curry powder and half of the ginger, garlic and green onions. Feel free to add some of your favourite spice blends as well (I have a Caribbean all-purpose seasoning mix that I sometimes use or even some Cajun spice mix — it’s not traditional, but adds a nice flavour).

Raw curry shrimp in glass bowl

4. In a hot pan, sautee the onions then add the remaining Jamaican curry powder with a bit of oil so that it does not stick or burn. Cook the curry for just a few minutes. Then add the remaining garlic and ginger, along with the thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper — stir well.

5. Next add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer, add water as necessary then add the vegetable bouillon and ketchup and stir.

Related: Slow Cooker Curry Recipes That Deliver All the Comfort

6. Finally add the shrimp and a squeeze of lime (taste and adjust salt and lime as needed). The shrimp should cook pretty fast so be sure to keep an eye on your curry and remove pan from the heat as soon as the shrimp is cooked to prevent it from overcooking. If you’d like a thicker curry gravy, mix a tsp of cornstarch with water and pour into curry before it’s finished cooking to thicken up your curry shrimp.

7. Serve with a lime wedge and rice or paratha and enjoy!

Like Eden’s Jamaican curry shrimp? Try her vegan jerky or her quick and tasty guava tarts.

3 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This February

If you’re like us, all this time at home has been great for two reasons: it’s let us catch up on some of our favourite television, and has us spending way more time in the kitchen whipping up delicious eats (anyone else obsessed with that air fryer they got over the holidays?). The good news: that’s not about to change any time soon, as Food Network Canada has a delicious slate of new shows to dig into this month with STACKTV on Amazon Prime.

Project Bakeover

Who Should Watch:  Neighbourhood bakery lovers.

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt on set for Project Bakeover

Pastry chef Steve Hodge (Great Chocolate Showdown) teams up with HGTV Canada star and the queen of colour Tiffany Pratt to help revamp down-and-out bakery owners’ businesses, breathing new energy (not to mention tasty goods) and beautiful design into their struggling shops.

Related: 5 Gorgeous Restaurants Designed by Tiffany Pratt

Supermarket Stakeout

Who Should Watch:  Savvy supermarket shoppers.

Alex Guarnaschelli is back for a third exciting season of this grocery store competition. Four chefs negotiate with shoppers to snag their groceries and make jaw-dropping themed dishes from the wares.

Host Alex Guarnaschelli portrait, as seen on Supermarket Stakeout, Season 3.

Great Chocolate Showdown

Who Should Watch:  Chocoholics of all ages.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge return for the second season of sweet competition! Ten new talented bakers enter the competition ready to show off their chocolate-making and dessert-baking skills in order to take home the $50,000 grand prize.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge on the set of Great Chocolate Showdown season 2

Related: Meet the Season 2 Bakers on Great Chocolate Showdown

Three cheesy jerk pork sandwiches with a homemade Jamaican coleslaw sit on a wooden board

Creamy Havarti Cheese and Spicy Jerk Pork Make for the Perfect Sandwich

Jerk sandwiches are a staple in Jamaican cuisine, and it’s no surprise why that’s the case. The flavourful jerk marinade is spicy, garlicky and zesty all at once, making it a delight to the taste buds. The addition of Armstrong Natural Havarti Cheese slices takes this sandwich recipe, developed by chef Roger Mooking, from takeout favourite to stand-out comfort food classic that’s totally achievable to make on the BBQ at home.

Related: Our 75 Best Sandwich Recipes

Three cheesy jerk pork sandwiches with a homemade Jamaican coleslaw sit on a wooden board

Cheesy Jerk Pork Sandwich

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus 24-48 hours marinating time
Total Time: 45 minutes, plus marinating time
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Jerk Marinade
1 cup roughly chopped green onions
1 cup chopped white onion
2 Scotch bonnet peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 tsp roughly chopped garlic
1/4 cup fresh picked thyme
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

*Note: Use a pre-made jerk marinade of your choice to simplify this recipe (optional).

Sandwiches
4 boneless pork butt steaks (3/4-inch thick)
4-8 slices Armstrong Natural Havarti Cheese
4 large burger buns
1/4 cup finely sliced chives, divided

Coleslaw
1 cup finely sliced green cabbage
1 cup julienned carrot
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Overhead shot of a cheesy jerk pork sandwich with homemade coleslaw, a toasted bun and two slices of Armstrong Havarti cheese

See More: Crispy Cheese Cup Recipe

Directions:

1. For the jerk marinade, combine green onions, white onions, Scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, thyme, lime juice, ground allspice, ginger, soy sauce and black pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Place marinade in a resealable bag. Add pork steaks and turn so they are well coated in marinade. Place in the fridge to marinate for 24-48 hours.

2. For the coleslaw, combine white wine vinegar, lime juice, mayonnaise, honey, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix to combine. Mix in finely sliced green cabbage and julienned carrot. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Heat BBQ to medium-high heat. Butter the inside and the top of each bun. Remove pork steaks from the marinade and grill until they reach an internal temperature of 145ºF-150ºF, about 4-5 minutes per side. Place 1-2 slices of Armstrong Natural Havarti Cheese on top of each pork steak and let melt. Toast all sides of the buttered buns on the grill.

4. Place pork steak on the grilled bottom bun. Shake off excess dressing and evenly divide coleslaw on top of steaks. Sprinkle with chopped chives and top with bun.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail next to pineapples and lemons

This Non-Alcoholic Winter Colada Recipe is Sure to Cure Your Winter Blues

Sure, we can’t travel right now, but we can pretend to visit a tropical island with this That’s the Spirit winter colada recipe. Combining flavours of pineapple and coconut milk, orange marmalade and a spiced syrup made with maple, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, this perfectly tropical pick-me-up is sure to cure your winter blues.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail next to pineapples and lemons

Non-Alcoholic Winter Colada

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

Spiced Syrup
¾ cup maple syrup
¼ cup water
1 tsp allspice berries
2 sticks cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 Thai chili (optional)

Cocktail
1 ½ oz non-alcoholic spirit
1 oz pineapple juice
1 oz coconut milk
½ oz spiced syrup
½ oz lemon juice (approximately ¼ lemon)
1 small Tbsp orange marmalade
Ice for shaking
Pineapple fronds and cinnamon for garnish (optional)

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail ingredients on kitchen table

Directions:

1. In a pot, add maple syrup, water, allspice berries, cinnamon, cloves and Thai chili and bring to boil. Turn to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes until flavours are integrated and slightly reduced.

non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail syrup in pot

2. Strain out solids through a colander or strainer into a non-reactive container. Recipe can remain in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

3. In a shaker tin or mason jar, add non-alcoholic spirit, pineapple juice, coconut milk, ½ oz the spiced syrup you just made, lemon juice and orange marmalade. Close up the shaking vessel and shake until jam is broken down (about 5 seconds). Open up shaker again and check that all ingredients are well integrated.

Related: Dazzling Non-Alcoholic Sparklers, Mocktails and Drinks for a Dry January

4. Add enough ice to cover the liquid plus a little bit more, do not be shy. Cover the other side of the shaker tin and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled.

5. Transfer the contents of the shaker tin into a large juice glass of your choice. Garnish with desired garnish (recommended: pineapple fronds and a dust of cinnamon for aromatics). Enjoy immediately!

person placing leaves in non-alcoholic winter colada cocktail

Like Evelyn’s winter colada recipe? Try her apple spruce gimlet.

Angus beef burgers topped with Armstrong Medium Cheddar Cheese, fresh herbs and pickled daikon radish and carrots

These Easy Banh Mi Cheeseburgers Come Together in Just 30 Minutes

Grilling shouldn’t be reserved for summer. Need proof? This delicious Vietnamese-inspired cheeseburger recipe by chef Roger Mooking is here to improve dinner menus everywhere. Quick pickled daikon radish and carrots together with fresh herbs (choose cilantro or basil based on your preference, or a mix of both!) balance the richness of Angus beef patties, creamy mayonnaise and perfectly melted slices of Armstrong Medium Cheddar Cheese. Throw on your winter boots, heat up your backyard BBQ and get cooking!


See More: Our 80 Most Popular Burger Recipes

Banh Mi Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

Daikon Radish and Carrot Pickle
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3/4 cup daikon radish batonettes, about 3-inches long
3/4 cup carrot batonettes, about 3-inches long

Burgers
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp finely grated garlic
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
4 slices Armstrong Natural Medium Cheddar Cheese
4 buns
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
2 Persian cucumbers, ends trimmed, thinly sliced lengthways with a peeler
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro and/or basil

Related: Vegetarian Cauliflower Cheese Quesadilla With Salsa

Two beef burgers with a slice of Armstrong Medium Cheddar Cheese, fresh herbs and quick pickles sit on a wooden board, a package of Armstong Cheese beside them

Directions:

1. Start by making the daikon radish and carrot pickle. Combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add daikon radish and carrot pieces. Remove from heat. Set aside until daikon radish and carrots soften, become pickled, and are room temperature, about 20 minutes.

2. In a large bowl combine ground beef, grated garlic and five-spice powder. Mix well to combine. Divide the burger mixture into four 6oz patties. Make sure the patties are at least 25% larger than the buns as they will shrink during cooking.

3. Heat BBQ to medium-high heat. Season the burgers on both sides with salt. Place burgers on the grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reads 145ºF on a thermometer. During the last minute of cooking, place a slice of Armstrong Natural Medium Cheddar Cheese on top of each burger and close the BBQ lid to melt cheese, about 1 minute.

4. Slice each bun open. Hollow out the top of each bun. Butter buns and toast on the grill. Spread mayonnaise on the top and bottom of each grilled bun. Place burger on top of each bun. Top with drained daikon radish and carrot pickles, cucumber slices, jalapeno slices, and fresh cilantro or basil leaves.