bowl of udon
bowl of udon

Cultural Cuisine

There’s no single way to eat right. No matter what kinds of foods you enjoy eating – you can always make your cuisine healthier.

Let’s Take a Global
Food Tour

Select your cuisine of choice:

East Asian

If you enjoy East Asian cuisine – delicious dumplings, stir-fried vegetables, savoury soups, barbequed meats and so on – these tips can help you modify your meal planning for healthier eating.

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Fibre-rich foods

  • Vegetables
    (mushroom, bok choy, gai lan, broccoli, corn, lotus root, sweet potato, taro, water chestnut, squash, snow pea, baby corn)
  • Fruits
    (apple, banana, durian, berries, mandarin, grapes, guava, longan, lychee, mango, melon, persimmon, pear)
  • Grains
    (rice and noodles made from whole grain, whole wheat or brown rice)
  • Legumes
    (dried mung beans, adzuki beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas, lentils, peas, soybeans [edamame])
  • Nuts and seeds
    (almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds)

Lean animal proteins
Fish, lean meats, skinless poultry

Vegetable proteins
Tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes

Choose Less

Sugary + high-fat items

  • Sweets
    (jam, sugar, honey)
  • Desserts
    (sesame pastry, sweet buns, egg tarts, glutinous rice balls, ice cream – green tea, red bean, sesame)
  • Deep fried foods
    (egg rolls, spring rolls, fried wontons, fried fish, fried noodles)
  • Deep fried snacks
    (shrimp chips, wasabi peas)
  • Sweet sauces
    (honey garlic, sweet & sour plum sauce)
  • Sweetened mung bean soup and red bean soup

High-sodium sauces

  • Soy sauce, miso paste/soybean paste, fish sauce/fish paste, teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, black bean sauce

Sample East Asian Dinner

Portion

¼ Plate grains & starches

½ Plate vegetables

¼ Plate protein

Meal idea

Brown rice – ½ cup

Bok choy + mushrooms – 1 cup

Mapo tofu*– ½ cup

*This dish (with main ingredients being firm tofu and ground pork loin) contains soy sauce and oyster sauce. Try to find reduced sodium varieties.

Round out your meal with…

Dragon fruit – ½ of fruit

Portion

Meal idea

¼ Plate grains & starches
Brown rice – ½ cup
½ Plate vegetables
Bok choy + mushrooms – 1 cup
¼ Plate protein
Mapo tofu*– ½ cup

*This dish (with main ingredients being firm tofu and ground pork loin) contains soy sauce and oyster sauce. Try to find reduced sodium varieties.
Round out your meal with…
Dragon fruit – ½ of fruit

Adapted from EatRight Ontario, 2012.

South Asian

If you enjoy South Asian cuisine – spicy curries, rich rice dishes, stewed meats and so on – these tips can help you modify your meal planning for healthier eating.

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Fibre-rich foods

  • Vegetables
    (snake gourd, plantain, cauliflower, spinach, corn, sweet potato, green bean, broccoli, mustard green, carrot)
  • Fruits
    (plantain, apple, banana, berries, mango, papaya, pineapple, guava, melon, pomegranate)
  • Grains
    (use whole grain wheat, besan, brown rice, millet or sorghum to make roti, dosa, adai, appam, puttu, upma, venpongal)
  • Legumes
    (lentils, dried beans and peas)
  • Nuts and seeds
    (almonds, cashews, pistachios)

Lean animal proteins
Fish, lean meats, skinless poultry, low-fat cheese, paneer, eggs

Vegetable proteins
Tofu, dhal

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Sugary + high-fat items

  • Sweets
    (jam, sugar, jaggery, honey)
  • Desserts
    (ladoo, jalebi, halwa, adhirasam, gulab jamoon, and so on)
  • Deep fried foods
    (pakora, bhaji, medu vada)
  • Chips
    (banana, plantain, potato, jackfruit, tapioca)
  • Saturated fats
    (ghee, butter, cream, lard, shortening, coconut oil)
  • Payasam
  • Coconut
  • Murukku and papadums
  • Samosa

Sample South Asian Dinner

Portion

¼ Plate grains & starches

½ Plate vegetables

¼ Plate protein

Meal idea

Rice (basmati or brown) – ½ cup
OR
Roti – ½ piece

Tomato salad (with cucumber + mint + chickpeas + onion) – as much as you want

Saag* with tofu – 1 cup
Dhal – ½ cup

*This dish combines different greens (e.g., spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, etc.) with garlic, peppers and spices; it can be prepared in a variety of ways.

Round out your meal with…

Melon – ½ cup

Portion

Meal idea

¼ Plate grains & starches
Rice (basmati or brown) – ½ cup
OR
Roti – ½ piece
½ Plate vegetables
Tomato salad (with cucumber + mint + chickpeas + onion) – as much as you want
¼ Plate protein
Saag* with tofu – 1 cup
Dhal – ½ cup

*This dish combines different greens (e.g., spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, etc.) with garlic, peppers and spices; it can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Round out your meal with…
Melon – ½ cup

Adapted from Diabetes Canada, 2018 & EatRight Ontario, 2012.

Mediterranean

If you enjoy Mediterranean cuisine – beautiful breads, tangy tomatoes, fresh seafood, meaty olives and so on – these tips can help you modify your meal planning for healthier eating.

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Fibre-rich foods

  • Vegetables
    (tomato, pepper, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, onion, olive, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber)
  • Fruits
    (citrus, grapes, fig, pomegranate, date, apricot)
  • Grains
    (whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, oats, barley, couscous, brown rice)
  • Legumes
    (chickpeas, peas, lentils, cannellini beans)
  • Nuts and seeds
    (almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts)

Lean animal proteins

  • Fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines), chicken, turkey, rabbit, eggs

Healthy fats

  • Olive oil, olive oil margarine

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Sugary + high-fat items

  • Sweets
    (candies, pastries, desserts and sweetened pop and/or juice)
  • Refined carbohydrates
    (white flour-based bread, pizza dough, pasta)
  • High-sodium antipasto foods
    (cured meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables, and so on)
  • Red meat
  • Breaded, deep fried meat/fish
  • Breaded, deep fried vegetable dishes
  • Creamy sauces

Sample Mediterranean Dinner

Portion

¼ Plate grains & starches

½ Plate vegetables

¼ Plate protein

Meal idea

Whole wheat couscous salad (add vegetables of your choice, with olive oil and vinegar) – up to 1 cup

Steamed broccoli – as much as you want

Salmon* (baked) – 2 ½ ounces

*Season with dill, sea salt, garlic, pepper, and garnish with a slice of lemon.

Round out your meal with…

Orange – 1 medium

Portion

Meal idea

¼ Plate grains & starches
Whole wheat couscous salad (add vegetables of your choice, with olive oil and vinegar) – up to 1 cup
½ Plate vegetables
Steamed broccoli – as much as you want
¼ Plate protein
Salmon* (baked) – 2 ½ ounces

*Season with dill, sea salt, garlic, pepper, and garnish with a slice of lemon.
Round out your meal with…
Orange – 1 medium

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada, 2017.

Caribbean & African

If you enjoy Caribbean & African cuisine – spicy stews, rich curries, marinated meats, succulent fruit and so on – these tips can help you modify your meal planning for healthier eating.

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Fibre-rich foods

  • Vegetables
    (okra, eggplant, carrot, broccoli, leafy greens such as callaloo, kale, collards, spinach, Swiss chard)
  • Fruits
    (guava, sapodilla, pomegranate, orange, mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, apple, melon, berries)
  • Grains
    (oats, millet, teff, barley, brown rice, maize, whole wheat)
  • Legumes
    (kidney beans, lentils, pigeon peas, chickpeas, cowpeas)
  • Nuts and seeds
    (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, flax seeds and cashews)

Lean animal proteins

  • Fresh fish, skinless poultry, low-fat milk products

Healthy fats

  • Oils (olive, canola, sunflower), nuts and seeds, avocado, oily fish

Choose Less

Sugary + high-fat items

  • Sweets
    (fruit juice and nectars, jam, candy, pop, baked goods such as pastries, tarts)
  • Fried snack foods
    (plantain chips, mandazi, vetkoek, puff puff, dumplings)
  • Saturated fats
    (butter, lard, shortening, palm oil, coconut oil)
  • High-fat meats
    (chicken wings, sausage, spareribs, chicken, cow or pig feet, cow tongue, pig or ox tail)

Sample Caribbean & African Dinner

Portion

¼ Plate grains & starches

½ Plate vegetables

¼ Plate protein

Meal idea

Small, whole grain roll

Collard greens – 1 cup

Roasted (jerk) chicken* – 2½ ounces

*Season with jerk marinade – combo of green onion, scotch bonnet pepper, water, garlic, lime juice, ginger, allspice, thyme, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg – or whichever flavours you prefer.

Round out your meal with…

Mango – ½ cup

Portion

Meal idea

¼ Plate grains & starches
Small, whole grain roll
½ Plate vegetables
Collard greens – 1 cup
¼ Plate protein
Roasted (jerk) chicken* – 2½ ounces

*Season with jerk marinade – combo of green onion, scotch bonnet pepper, water, garlic, lime juice, ginger, allspice, thyme, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg – or whichever flavours you prefer.
Round out your meal with…
Mango – ½ cup

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada, 2018.

Latin American

If you enjoy Latin American cuisine – fiery salsas, fragrant fish, hearty bean stews and so on – these tips can help you modify your meal planning for healthier eating.

Choose More

Fibre-rich foods

  • Vegetables
    (Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, auyama [pumpkin], nopal [cactus pad], artichoke, peppers, zucchini, tomatillo, broccoli, cassava, corn, plantain, sweet potato, yam, winter squash, carrot, cauliflower)
  • Fruits
    (fig, mango, papaya, orange, cherimoya, prickly pear, guava, banana, soursop, dragon fruit, apple, melon, berries)
  • Grains
    (whole wheat, maize, oats, quinoa, tapioca, mote, barley, brown rice)
  • Legumes
    (pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils)
  • Nuts and seeds
    (Brazil nuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, cashews)

Lean animal proteins

  • Fresh fish, skinless poultry, low-fat milk products

Healthy fats

  • Oils (olive, canola, sunflower), nuts and seeds, avocado, oily fish

Choose Less

Sugary + high-fat items

  • Sweets
    (jam, dulce de leche [caramel] candy, baked goods, pop)
  • Deep fried foods
    (fritters, fried tortillas, churros, pork skins, dumplings, beef or chicken turnovers, plantain chips)
  • Saturated fats
    (butter, lard, shortening, palm oil, coconut oil)
  • Refined flour*
    (arepas, empanadas, tamales, tortillas)
*Substitute with 100% whole grain whole wheat flour or whole grain corn flour instead.

Sample Latin American Dinner

Portion

¼ Plate grains & starches

½ Plate vegetables

¼ Plate protein

Meal idea

Rice (brown) – ½ cup

Swiss chard (sauté in olive oil with your choice of seasoning – 1 cup

Chicken* – 2 ½ ounces

*Arroz con pollo – cook rice and chicken in a tomato-based stock, with onion and garlic.

Round out your meal with…

Prickly pear – ½ of fruit

Portion

Meal idea

¼ Plate grains & starches
Rice (brown) – ½ cup
½ Plate vegetables
Swiss chard (sauté in olive oil with your choice of seasoning – 1 cup
¼ Plate protein
Chicken* – 2 ½ ounces

*Arroz con pollo – cook rice and chicken in a tomato-based stock, with onion and garlic.
Round out your meal with…
Prickly pear – ½ of fruit

Adapted from Dietitians of Canada, 2018.

Friendly Tip:

Do you typically eat classic North American dishes? Try experimenting with International Eats.

Continue Reading

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Meal Planning

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Portion Control

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Dining Out with
Type 2 Diabetes

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