Tag Archives: healthy eating
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Statistics say that most people will have abandoned their pledges by the end of the month, and I’m not surprised since they are often worded so negatively. This year I changed tack; instead of vowing to lose weight, I have promised to spend as much time on my inner health as I do on my outside appearance.
Image: Skinny Ms.
So, I’m taking a little more time to prepare my own meals, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In order to do this, I have stocked my pantry with quality ingredients that can be prepared quickly and in many different ways. At the top of my list is quinoa. Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” this little seed has been named International Food of 2013 by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing. Image: Veggie Belly
I’m not surprised, since it is low-fat, cholesterol-free, and high in fiber. Its texture and nutty flavour is similar to whole grains like brown rice and barley but it is a complete protein, which makes it perfect for vegetarian meals. And it cooks quickly, in about 15 minutes!
Breakfast Quinoa Cereal. Image: 80 Breakfasts
Like whole grains, it takes some care to make sure it doesn’t turn out mushy. And the seeds need to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking or they will taste bitter. The Kitchn has excellent step-by-step cooking instructions that guarantee perfection. I always try to make a little extra at dinner so that I can use the leftovers to make porridge or a salad the next day.
Dairy Free Quinoa Cocoa Waffles. Image: Kitchen Therapy
Quinoa is also gluten-free and quinoa flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose in baking recipes. While most supermarkets carry it, homemadeadventure shows how quinoa flour can be made at home in a food processor for a fraction of the cost.
Quinoa Sushi Rolls. Image: Wholesome Cook
The seeds come in three colours: white, red, and black. There is no difference in their preparation or nutritional value, though some people swear that the red and black versions are nuttier and more flavourful. I have also seen tri-colour mixes, which I think gives great visual appeal to dishes like Wholesome Cook’s quinoa sushi rolls.
Roasted Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls. Image: Damndelicious
I don’t have a rice cooker and I am really impatient, so I’m excited to try substituting quinoa as a base for my stir-frys and curries. Damndelicious even replaced vermicelli noodles with quinoa in fresh summer rolls. My brain is spinning with the possibilities!
Andean Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Quinoa. Image: New York Times
Because it isn’t as popular as other grains, quinoa can be a little pricey. However, it is still a great option for bulking up soups and stews and stretching your food budget. And because it is an excellent source of protein, you can cut back on the amount of meat you use, or leave it out altogether.
Orange Quinoa Bars. Image: Modern Taste
Most brands of quinoa are certified organic, so I feel even better about making it one of my main pantry staples. Why blow my money on packaged low-fat, chemical-laden snack bars when I can make Modern Taste’s version, filled with fruit and spicy goodness?
Blueberry-Quinoa Tart with Lemon Whipped Cream. Image: Kiss My Spatula
Quinoa has me excited to be back in the kitchen, providing a fresh take on old favourites and inspiring me to create a few new ones. I think this might be one resolution that lasts.
It’s nearing the end of January and I am still trying to get over the effects of the gustatory excess of December! So it’s been salads, salads, and salads — or at least, that’s the general idea. And there’s a whole slew of really lovely and scrumptious salad ideas to try, among them Steamy Kitchen’s Grilled Tofu Salad with Miso Dressing, and Rasa Malaysia’s Shrimp and Pomelo Salad, both of which have that exotic Asian kick.
And to give a light, fresh, and delicious salad meal even more oomph, kick them up another notch with these incredibly stylish salad bowls and utensils. They’ll give the eyes so much more to feast on.
Salad Bowl by Joseph Joseph via Charles and Marie
Image via The Kitchen Dresser
We here at The Design Tree have a special affinity gorgeously crafted wooden anything, and these bowls are so fine they blow my mind! I love the clean curves, the wood grain, and the low musical sound they make when they bump against the other utensils.
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
It’s wild blueberry season! And really there’s no crop I look forward to more than wild blueberries (my father-in-law’s rainbow chard and raspberries are second if I’m going to the trouble of ranking).
Wild blueberries have a distinctive flavour, packing more punch in a smaller size and way, way more nutritional value.
- Blueberries – cultivated and wild – are one of the most antioxidant rich foods on the planet
- The wild variety has more of the antioxidant powerful anthocyanin than their cultivated cousins
- Wild blueberries also demonstrate greater antioxidant capacity per serving over the cultivated variety
- The blue in blueberries is caused by phytochemicals which nutrition researchers say help ward off diseases associated with aging – cancers, heart disease, dementia, loss of eye sight
- And at 45 calories per serving they contain more nutrition than virtually any other food.
Of course you can just eat them as they are or dress them up with cream, but below find a recipe for blueberry sauce and the many ways you can use it.
Wild Blueberry Sauce
Over ice cream, on waffles or pancakes, warmed as a syrup or baked with brie, a wild blueberry sauce is delicious, decadent and dead simple. Click on the links below each photo for the recipe of the gorgeous food pictured. Or try my wild blueberry sauce recipe for your next brunch:
- 2 cups wild blueberries
- 1/4- 1/2 granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 2 tsp cornstarch
In a saucepan add water and cornstarch to dissolve, add remaining ingredients cooking over medium heat until it thickens and blueberries burst, about 10 minutes.
Here are a few tips to stay healthy and stuffed:
The best advice I got when preparing for the arrival of our little one was to cook and cook lots and freeze it all for those first hectic, sleepless, joyous months. If felt so good to have a wholesome and hearty meal only a few minutes away by microwave or stovetop. I made several litres of four kinds of soup, lentil-walnut burgers, veggie chili, chicken pot pies and it really only took a couple of weekends of work. The payoff is so worth it. This advice works just as well for a kitchen reno too – a great way to not blow your budget on crappy take-out or less than special restaurant excursions.
Set up a mini kitchen elsewhere
- Warning: You may never move your coffee maker out of the bedroom once it enters, but enjoy this caffeinated perk during your kitchen renovation.
- The dining room is a great spot to set up a hotplate, toaster oven and microwave. The table itself can be used as prep room. Do yourself the favour of being organized though, diligently cleaning as you prep meals and getting dirty dishes done after eating because it’ll quickly feel like chaos if you don’t. If possible set up a shelf of dishes, editing your flatware choices to the bare minimum to keep clutter contained.
- You’ll also need a place to wash up, which most likely means the bathroom sink or tub.
- Hopefully you’ll still have access to your fridge, if not invest in a bar fridge and stand alone freezer which can be set up elsewhere, however awkward.
Focus on one-pot meals and foods that only get better with time
In the cooler months a chili or hearty stew can be made in one pot and will keep for a few days. If it’s summer pasta, bean, or couscous salads really only improve with a day or two of marinating (just add your favourite sandwich for a full meal). Making large batches of these will make for quick and easy meals for at least a couple of days.
If the weather is on your side and you’ve got a garden or patio, the barbeque will be your best friend. Get adventurous, you’re really not limited to hot dogs and burgers! My favs this summer have been roasted veggies and lemon garlic shrimp. Plus you can put your cast iron grills and pans directly on the barbeque to really expand your culinary options.
Accept friendly neighbours’ offerings
If friends and neighbours offer to bring you food or have the family over for dinner, for the love of a decent meal, say yes! You can repay this remarkable kindness in full with a gourmet dinner in your brand new kitchen a few weeks hence.
Community dinners and picnics
Toronto is a great city for parks as I assume many urban centres are. Many of our city’s parks and parkettes also have a strong community contingent that informally evolved out of a sense of camaraderie and pride for one’s neighbourhood and public spaces. I can think of at least two west-end parks that host weekly community dinners offering healthy meals for the whole family. Countless others host farmer’s markets one day per week. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner and don’t have a kitchen, wander over to one of these spots and dine with your neighbours for less than take out. Or just pick up some healthy offerings at the farmer’s market for a quiet little picnic.
Take out and delivery
Of course this might be what you end up doing more often than you’d like but hopefully the ideas above mean it won’t have to be an everyday thing. Do your research beforehand too and find out which of your favourite healthy haunts deliver so at least it won’t be fast food every night! And now’s a great time to try various international cuisines: Thai and Indian curries, affordable falafels and west-Indian roti, handmade pierogi and cabbage rolls – make it a theme night where the family travels the globe one night a week for dinner.
Bon appetit! My fingers are crossed your reno goes smoothly and you’re soon cooking up a storm in your dreamiest of dream kitchens!
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
3 Bean Salad
This is hardy and tasty, pretty and healthy. You can mix it up in less than 15 minutes and it only gets better as it sits. Plus as a side dish goes it’s pretty versatile, going well with a burger or egg sandwhich. Who could ask for more?
3 cans of beans – I usually use red kidney beans, chick peas, and romano beans
1 small purple onion minced
1 yellow and 1 orange pepper, diced
1/3 cup minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup each olive oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar (I typically use less sugar, so be sure to taste as you go). Stir vigorously till emulsified.
Mix all ingredients together. Best to chill for a couple hours before serving as the falvours really intensify. Serves 10.
Mixed Berry Fruit Salad
If there was a food that epitomized summer for me it’s a bowl full of berries. My mum always says they look like sparkling jewels. And how wonderful that these beautiful and delicious berries are possibly the healthiest foods on earth (especially organically grown ones)? Ice cream, whipped cream or a rich chocolate something also pair stupendously. But really the berries will be enough, you’ll see.
1 lb strawberries, halved
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
1 pint blackberries
1 sliced mango and/or a three sliced kiwis are optional but add beautiful colour and flavour too.
Wash and pick over berries, discarding any that are bruised or off. Mix together in a large salad bowl with a generous sprinkle of sugar (1-2 tablespoons). If possible chill until serving. Serves 6 as berries alone, more if you’re serving ice cream or brownies with them too!
Tuna Nicoise Sandwich
Okay tuna nicoise is a bit of a loose term here, but this is sure how to fancy up the lowly tuna sandwich. Make sure to use a nice crusty bread – a third of a baguette makes a perfect sandwich.
3 cans of tuna packed in water, well drained
3 stalks of celery, washed and finely minced
1/3 cup minced fresh chives
1/3 cup mayonnaise or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Sliced boiled egg (this recipe serves 6)
Any combination of Boston lettuce, pea shoots, cucumber, tomato
Mix tuna salad, top with egg and other fixings. My preference is always to prepare tuna salad and sliced sandwich toppings in advance but have folks assemble their own sandwich. (I for one hate soggy bread and these tend to fall apart given how jam-packed they are.) Makes 6 sandwiches.