08/28/2012 12:58 EDT | Updated 10/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Consider September start of new year and chance to adopt healthier way of eating

After a summer consuming ice cream, hot dogs and burgers, not to mention convenient but not so nutritious fast foods, September becomes a reality check for everyone.

“I think the back-to-school, work and more serious activities as the beginning of a new year," says food writer and cooking instructor Camilla Saulsbury. “And this is a time to make new plans of how you are going to get through the fall and into a new year next January.”

Her book “5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking: 500 Recipes for Lifelong Wellness” (Robert Rose, $27.95, paperback) is a timely guide with suggestions on enhancing health and offering protection from diseases.

Also, with the plethora of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables at their peak, autumn is a great time to include them in daily menu planning as well as preserving and freezing the produce for cold weather meals.

“Eating with the seasons by buying from farmers markets and specials in grocery stores is much more frugal, while promoting healthy eating,” says Texas-based Saulsbury.

One of the best ways to save money on food is eating those things that are the most basic “rather than refined,” she adds.

Saulsbury believes in buying ingredients like whole grains, oats and other less refined cereals in bulk because doing so can be a lot less expensive.

“I keep my grains in the refrigerator or freezer so they are there when I need them and don't forget about them,” she says.

Saulsbury contends that the book is not a diet book but a five-step approach to health that is holistic and flexible.

“Diet books are about ‘don't eat this’ and ‘don't eat that,’" whereas her approach is to choose fresh, nutritious food and to make healthy choices.

The five steps are: Choose fresh, whole foods; eat mostly vegetable- and fruit-based foods; opt for healthy fats and proteins; select superfoods (nutrient-dense foods); and eat more whole grains.

Here from the book is a recipe which contains ingredients from the five steps. It is perfect for school and work lunches.

Quinoa and Chickpea Wraps

15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh mint

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) fine sea salt

75 ml (1/3 cup) nonfat plain Greek yogurt

2 whole wheat tortillas (20 cm/8 inches in diameter)

250 ml (1 cup) rinsed drained canned chickpeas, coarsely mashed with fork

175 ml (3/4 cup) cooked quinoa, cooled

50 ml (1/4 cup) golden raisins, chopped

15 ml (1 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together mint, salt and yogurt.

Spread tortillas with yogurt mixture. Top with chickpeas, quinoa and raisins, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Roll up like burritos, enclosing filling.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 315 calories; 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat); 1 mg cholesterol; 68 g carbohydrate; 13 g protein; 9 g fibre.