The Pure Prairie Eating Plan has been several years in the making. It started when we were working on a research project and our creative colleague, Dr. Eddie Ryan said something like “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make a Mediterranean Diet for people in Alberta?” From there, we started developing the menus with the help of many nutrition students at the University of Alberta. We talked with our partners, the commodity groups that represent the people who grow our food, and asked them if we could use recipes they had developed. We looked for recipes that were simple, tasty and used foods that people living in the prairie provinces are used to eating. We tried to incorporate flavours from the broad cultural mosaic that influences what we eat. And we made sure that each menu was nutritionally sound – that it met the guidelines of Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide. Because our primary research interest was people with type 2 diabetes, we also aligned the menus with the recommendations published by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Next we tested the menu plan to see how people liked it and whether it could help people with diabetes achieve a healthier diet pattern. Happily, people did like it – although they also gave us lots of great advice on how it could be improved. After using the menu plan as a guide for their eating, most of the people with diabetes also had better blood sugar control, lost a little weight, and had new ideas for healthier eating.
One person who volunteered to follow the menu plan was colleague and author, Dr. Timothy Caulfield. He and his family conducted a personal experiment as part of his theory that following a healthy menu plan (not a fad diet) could demonstrably improve health. By focusing on portion size (something we give for every recipe in Pure Prairie), following the menus and cutting out junk, Tim lost 25 pounds and halved his body fat. This is described in his book The Cure for Everything! Untangling the Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness and Happiness.
As these events were unfolding, many people began to encourage us to write a book that would be available to the general public, not just colleagues and research participants. So, with the help of our sponsors, we began to put together the version of the menu plan and all the recipes that ended up as the Pure Prairie Eating Plan. We are really grateful for all the support we’ve received and for the positive feedback from those who’ve bought the book and used the menus and recipes.