Put your “Best Food Forward” at McEwan

A Dietician’s Guide to Shopping Smart

Making healthy eating choices at the grocery store often seems like an overwhelming challenge. Health claims have become more visible than product prices, specialty items are no longer “special”, and every product comes in a dozen or more variations. Whatever happened to just buying plain yogurt?  Well, March is officially Nutrition Month in Canada, and this year, the theme is Canadians plan and shop for nutritious meals. So in my inaugural blog post, I’m going to take you along in my shopping cart at McEwan and share some of my top tips for making healthy choices in every department of the store. Let’s go!

Prepared Foods 

Look for meats, poultry and fish that have been grilled or baked without added seasonings or sauces, and choose sides or salads with a range of colours and textures. The brighter, more vibrant the product, the less likely it is to be saturated with high calorie dressings or sauces, and the more likely it is to have retained its nutrients through minimal processing. Next time you’re on the go, skip the take-out, and instead, pair some of McEwan’s Rapini with Garlic and Preserved Chilis with a few succulent Herb Grilled Shrimp.


When look for Whole Grain bread, ignore the colour or package claims, and go straight to the Nutrition panel and Ingredient list. Look for a product with 4 or more grams of fibre per serving, and that’s first ingredient is “Whole grain”, rather than Whole Wheat, Multigrain or Wheat. My family’s go-to staple is Ace Bakery’s Organic Whole Wheat!

Cheese & Deli

In contrast to most high-sodium deli products, McEwan offers preservative-free meats that are freshly cooked and sliced in house. Reach for a naturally lower fat roast beef, turkey, chicken or ham option like the herb-rubbed mco Roast Turkey!  When buying cheese, choosing an aged product that can be finely grated, like Pecorino Toscano, for example, will help you use less cheese while still getting a big hit of flavour!


Fish and seafood are low in fat and cholesterol, a source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and can be prepared faster than most other proteins! But if you’re new or nervous about the fish-cooking scene, try McEwan’s oven or grill ready Cedar-plank Salmon filet. Mark himself told me it’s one of his family’s favourites, and with it’s super-fast, super-healthy, super-tasty super-powers, it’s become one of my staples as well!

Meat & Poultry

Whether you buy in bulk and re-portion at home, or ask your butcher to slice off the perfect piece, aim for a serving size of about 4 oz. of protein, the size of a deck of cards. If a compact corner of a steak or halved chicken breast seems small, you can create the illusion of plenty by fanning several small pieces of meat across your plate. You can also make each bite more flavourful using a low-fat marinade or seasoning mix, like my favourite, McEwan’s Southwest Rub.


Fill you’re cart with as many colourful fresh fruits and vegetables as you can safely pack in, starting with cooking staples like celery, onions, garlic, carrots, and seasonal snacking fruits, and aiming to add in something new, like one of McEwan’s packages of Jerusalem Artichokes!


With McEwan’s vast selection of high fibre beans, legumes, and whole grains, there are lots of ingredients for inspiring for a weekly meatless dinner! Get creative with your stand-by rice or pasta recipes by swapping in one of McEwan’s other delicious whole grain offerings like Epicureal brand Organic Kamut.

Fridge & Dairy

Look for low or non-fat dairy products, and yogurt with no added flavours, sugars, or artificial sweeteners, allowing you to get creative with your own favourite fruit or flavour add-ins. And for even less sugar and about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, start your day with one of the plain, low-fat Greek yogurts McEwan carries like Skotidakis.


Whether you’re looking for a Gluten-Free baked good, or have a hankering for something cold and creamy, the freezer aisle is a great place to find that after-dinner treat. But if 300-400 calories seems steep for a few spoonfuls of ice-cream bliss, opt instead for a low or non-fat sorbet, granita or frozen yogurt! I particularly like the Ruggles Greek Frozen Yogurt I can find at McEwan, which delivers 5 grams of protein for only 140 calories per ½ cup.

So as I hope this grocery tour demonstrates, there are delicious and healthy choices to be found in every McEwan’s department! As McEwan’s monthly Registered Dietitian contributor, I’m looking forward to diving more deeply into each of these areas and helping you put your best food forward when meal planning and grocery shopping.  For more healthy eating tips and recipes, check out my website www.abbeyskitchen.com,  follow me on twitter @AbbeysKitchen, and visit the McEwan blog regularly to catch my next post!


Deliciously Yours,

Abbey Sharp, RD

Owner, Abbey’s Kitchen


Photography by Ryan Faubert [www.thefstop.ca]