Groceries 101 with Chef Corbin Tomaszecki

Clean eating starts at the grocery store. Here, expert tips to shop smart and maybe even shed a few unwanted pounds.


Chef Corbin Tomaszecki has recently teamed up with Weight Watchers and has learned a lot through his partnership.

“I thought I ate fairly healthy but I learned a lot about ingredients,” he says, adding, “I learned that you could eat and enjoy everyday foods within reason. Pay attention to quality and quantity.”

Hre, Tomaszecki shares a few of his simple tips with us as well as a few Weight Watchers – friendly recipes.

Go prepared

“A lot of people buy tons of fresh produce and they don’t have enough room to store it. They throw it in the bottom crisper drawers of their fridge and they forget about it.” Tomaszecki adds, “Treat your kitchen at home like a professional chef would his restaurant. Plan ahead. Make lists. Know what you’re going to do when you get to the grocery store. Know what you’re going to have ahead of time.” Of course this seems obvious but personally I find my grocery trips most efficient when I create a menu for the week and only shop for the items listed in my recipe’s ingredients.

Tip for buying protein and produce

Most of us generally go grocery shopping either at the beginning of the week or the end. Tomaszecki suggests we choose our produce on Tuesdays. “Tuesday is guaranteed the fresh day because it has come in from the beginning of the week, and you’re not going to get the leftovers from the previous week. ”

Jazz up simple ingredients

Don’t buy ingredients you’re not prepared to use. Stick to simple foods and make them more interesting with your herbs and spices. “I love roasting [cauliflower] with a tiny amount of olive oil. I mix and match different spices. There’s clove, cumin, pepper and paprika in there. I really jack up the flavour then toss it and roast it in a hot oven and it gets incredible flavourful – kind of charred on the outside and it doesn’t taste like cauliflower anymore it tastes so much better.

Ditch the dressing

Forget about ranch or even olive oil. “I love salads but I don’t like dressings. I find they overweigh the greens. And I don’t taste the greens anymore. I only taste the dressing. That’s a bad habit for people to break because they think, ‘I have to have a salad, I have to have dressing.” Well. No. You lose the flavour. Why not just take a fresh leaf salad and spritz some citrus on it. Whether it is lemon, grapefruit or lime. Keep it simple.”

Change up your sides

You don’t need to always eat a heavy carb with dinner ditch the creamy mashed potatoes with your roast beef. “I did an extra couple side dishes of veggies. I do mashed squash, which is super healthy. I add fresh sage to it. I have roasted carrots I have steamed broccoli. And the whole family enjoys it.”

Don’t ditch canned goods

It’s always helpful to have a few canned items stocked in your cabinet for when you’re low on groceries. For example, “Black beans are a great addition to a meal so if you’re going to sauteé chicken or pork you can add black beans with garlic.”

Click through for a few of Tomaszecki’s Weight Watchers recipes:

Turkey & Spinach Frittata

Yield- 1 serving
5 PointsPlus ® value

1 tsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 cup spinach
2 oz. shaved cooked turkey breast 4 egg whites- whipped slightly
2 tsp. feta cheese
2 tbsp. diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste


Prep Time: 5 Cook Time: 6 Total Time: 11

Sauté the onion and spinach with the olive oil in a pre-heated 6 inch skillet for 1 minute.

Add the shaved, cooked turkey to the cooked spinach mixture. Fold the beaten egg whites into the pan by gently lifting and turning all ingredients from the bottom of the pan to the top using a large spatula. This will combine all the ingredients without stirring to ensure the egg whites don’t deflate. Remove the skillet from the stove top and sprinkle the feta cheese on top of the eggs- season with cracked black pepper. Place the small skillet into

a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 5 minutes and serve. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.

(Next page: Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad Sandwich)

Smoked Salmon and Mango Salad Sandwich
Yield- 1 serving
8 PointsPlus ® value

1/2 cup fresh mango, peeled, seeded and diced 1/4 green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon yellow pepper, finely chopped
3 ounces smoked salmon
1 whole wheat wrap
1 1/2 tbsp. low fat cream cheese

Prep Time: 15 Cook Time: 5 Total Time: 20

Combine mango, green onion, cilantro, red onion, red pepper and yellow pep- per in a bowl and mix.

Spread thin layer of cream cheese on whole wheat pita and lay smoke salmon in middle of wrap. Scoop mango mixture on top of salmon and roll wrap over.

(Next page: Curried Spiced Popcorn)

Curried Spiced Popcorn

Yield- 1 serving
2 PointsPlus ® value

3 cups air popped popcorn
1 tsp melted butter or margarine Pinch of ground cumin seeds- toasted 1/4 tsp. curry powder
Pinch of sea salt


Prep Time: 1 Cook Time: 5 Total Time: 6

To toast cumin seeds, place in a heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Shake the pan frequently while toasting to prevent uneven toasting or burning.The seeds will only take around one minute to toast and should be removed from the heat when the cumin seed’s color has darkened and you smell a strong cumin smell.

Combine the ingredients into a small brown lunch bag and toss gently to coat the popcorn

(Next page: Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s pie)

Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s pie
Yield- 2 servings
8 PointsPlus ® value

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup minced white onion
1/2 carrot- small dice
1/2 cup leeks, chopped fine
6 oz. raw ground turkey breast
1 ear of fresh corn, cut from cob 1/2 cup chicken stock- low sodium 2 leaves fresh sage
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Sweet Potato Topping
2 cups sweet potatoes- peeled 1 glove garlic
1 1/2 oz. grated cheddar cheese Salt and pepper to taste


Prep Time: 30 Cook Time: 25 Total Time: 55

Start with the topping by boiling or steaming the sweet potatoes together with the garlic until tender. Mash the potatoes and garlic until smooth and add the grated cheese – season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat a large skillet over medium high heat with the olive oil. Sauté the onion and turkey until the cooked through. Add the diced carrots, leeks, corn and chicken stock. Continue to cook until reduced by half. Remove the cooked turkey mixture from the heat and stir in the chopped fresh parsley and sage.

Divide the cooked turkey mixture into 2 small individual baking dishes or ramekins. Place the mashed sweet potato onto each turkey mixture and bake inside a preheat 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite

(Next page: Low Fat Brownie)

Low Fat Brownie

Yield- 12 servings
5 PointsPlus ® value

1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 -cup cocoa
1-1/2 cup sugar or sweetener*
1 tsp baking powder
4 x egg whites
1 cup plus 3 tbsps. unsweetened applesauce 1 tsp. vanilla


Prep Time: 20 Cook Time: 30 Total Time: 50

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch round spring form pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl combine flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder. Sift until evenly combined. In a larger bowl whisk the egg white until frothy, stir in the applesauce and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Pour into pan and tap gently to remove air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes clean. Remove from heat and cool. Cut into 1/12s and serve as a wedge. Serve with fresh raspberries and mint.

*For artificial sweeteners, follow substitution instructions accordingly