Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Oscars - Party Food

The Oscars - Sweets | Foodspotting

This Sunday it's the 84th Academy Awards Show and people all over will be having Oscar Parties. The link above is some of the Hollywood Oscar Party Foods.

People go all out and make it a huge Party Event. If i had a Hollywood Budget I would throw a Huge Oscar Party but since I don't I have been spending my Academy Award Nights with Friends in a local Bar/Restaurant. We have been doing this at the same location for about 8 years now. The owners of the restaurant even chip in to give us Oscar pool prizes which is really great. The friends I watch the Awards with are all from my Entourage Team at the Toronto International Film Festival so it's a fun night because in commercial breaks we talk about which films we saw at the Festival and who we may have met and other funny stories so the show never gets boring for us. This year I have been on a mission to see as many films as I can before sunday. I was really lucky this year and was able to see a lot of the nominated films at the Toronto International Film Festivall where a lot of them premiered.

Even though I don't throw and Oscar Party but hope to one day but here are a couple of ideas of things you could make for the party.

1. One of the nominated films this year is "Midnight in Paris" so you could plan french foods and Paris decorations.
2. Make some spicy popcorn and put it into old fashioned popcorn boxes that you can usually find at dollar stores or party stores.
3. You can make sugar cookies that look like Oscar and decorate them with gold sugar sparkles.
4. You can make Golden Cocktails using Ginger Ale and maybe a little Vodka or a light colored alcohol.
5. You can theme the party based on some of the best picture locations or other themes.

Knock yourself out...

Get a roll out red tablecloth from a party store and use it as a Red Carpet.
Get your friends to dress up and have them walk the red carpet and take Paparazzi photos.

whatever you do have fun with it... and make it your own.

If you like make it a champagne and caviar night or a popcorn and pop night. It doesn't matter ....Just have fun... and watch as many movies as you can before the Awards and do have Prizes for an Oscar Pool. It could be a Movie Card Gift Certificate or just a bag of Popcorn. Work with your budget and do what you can.

And the Oscar goes to.................

will have to wait and see this sunday.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Test Tube we really need it?

How do you make food sustainable?

I heard about this while watching TV and thought I know there is an issue with Food Security in the World but do we really need to do this or is there another way to change farming and growing practices or to educate people to be responsible for food and production of it?

I am worried that all this Food Tinkering will result in Human Tinkering and develop genetic mutations in humans in the future and not in a good way. How do we know if this will be good for humans until years of people consuming these things shows what the effects will be. Would you try this if you knew what it was? Do you think that eventually food producers will just convert all the food in the world to genetically modified or created food?

It has me a LOT worried about where are Food Sources are going and what we can do about it? Unless you live on a farm and grow all of your own food you have no control of your food sources so what can you do?
I met a family that only eat food that they grow on their property or they shop at local farmers stalls for organically produces meat and they avoid anything that is imported like Tropical fruits etc. Should we all switch to this model? Is it reasonable? They are a family of 3 with the husband working in a related industry and the wife working part time providing her the time to harvest and prepare all the food for the family. Their daughter is a teenager who helps out with the extra workload required by this process. But what is a single working mother with a young child to do? Is it realistic to expect people to have to go this far?

I live in an apartment in the city so it's not really possible for me to get LOCAL meat so do I become vegetarian? I plan to try and grow some things on my balcony in the spring but I don't know how successful I will be but I will attempt it this spring and see what the results will be. You have to ask yourself "What can I do'? to insure Food Safety?

That's the Big Question. Unfortunately I don't have all the answers needed but I don't think that creating hamburgers in a Test Tube is the answer either.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Veganism myths debunked

Infographic: Veganism myths debunked | MNN - Mother Nature Network

I stumbled upon this link on twitter and thought it was a really great way to compare vegans to meat eaters... While I am still a meat eater I really want to start reducing my meat, dairy and wheat consumption... a challenge for someone that loves bread, cheese and meat.

I have seen a lot of people who are Vegans get criticized for being Vegan and the critics saying they don't look healthy or they aren't getting enough protein from vegetables. I would say from all the food information that I have been gathering as of late that you can have a fully balanced diet but it does require some work and creativity to maintain it. For someone that has grown up in a protein and carb environment it's a tough shift to figure out what to eat that will satisfy the same food cravings. But I know a lot of Vegans and I know it can be done. I don't know if I will ever get there.....for me it's like staying on a diet... it's where I drop the ball of self control. I am still a work in progress and hope to constantly move toward the healthy in the future.

I am finding that it is getting harder and harder to trust our food supply and feel that going back to buying food from local farmers that you can actually talk to makes them accountable and keeps you safer in the long run. They don't hide behind massive corporations with mega legal departments and PR firms ready to spin an issue on a dime.

I get excited to see organic grocery stores open up and more farmers markets in the city and hope that we show retailers that we want safe organic foods and want to trust in what we buy in the stores. Protest with your feet... support best business practices for a healthier future for the next generations.

Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Executive Summary | EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides | Environmental Working Group |

On a recent visit to the Big Carrot in Toronto we talked about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen with Nutritionist Julie Daniluk so I thought it might be handy to post it here for you to link to for your reference.

How to get summer foods in winter?

*Information provided by Disabled World - Published: 2009-09-14

I found this list that I thought might be helpful to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables so that you can get fresh food from local farmers markets and extend the life of some of these into the winter months.

How to Freeze Vegetables:

Asparagus: wash and cut off any spears and woody parts. Cut in half and blanch in boiling water for three minutes. Let cool in ice water for three minutes and then drain. Put wax paper on a cookie tray, lay the asparagus out on the sheet, and freeze for a half-hour. Pack in freezer bags for efficient storage.

Beans lima: Shell, wash, blanch, cool and drain.

Beans: Wash and remove ends. Leave whole or slice into 1½-inch lengths. Blanch, cool and drain.

Beets: Wash, Trim tops leaving ½ inch of stem. Cook in boiling water until tender. Cool, peel and cut into slices or cubes.

Blueberries: Blueberries freeze particularly well and will keep in the freezer for up to a year. Simply lay a single layer of unwashed, dry blueberries out on a cookie sheet and freeze. Washing them before freezing will compromise the texture and toughen the skins. Transfer the frozen berries into dry pack freezer bags or cartons.

Broad beans: Shell and wash. Blanch for 1 ½ minutes and cool in ice water for 1-2 minutes. Freeze in the same manner as the asparagus, for 30 minutes, and pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air. * Broccoli: Use the tender stalks and heads without flowers. Wash thoroughly, blanch for three minutes, cool in ice water for three minutes, drain, and freeze in the same manner as asparagus, for 30 minutes. Pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air.

Broccoli: Split into pieces about 1½ inches across. Blanch, cool and drain.

Brussel sprouts: Trim and remove outer leaves. Blanch, cool and drain.

Cabbage: Strip the outer leaves off and wash the rest. Cut into thin strips or shred and blanch for 1 ½ minutes. Cool in ice water for one-two minutes. Pack in freezer bags and freeze.

Carrots: Scrub and chop any large carrots into smaller pieces. Blanch three minutes, chill three minutes. Freeze in the same manner as the asparagus and pack in freezer bags, making sure to remove the air.

Cauliflower: the same method as broccoli.

Celery: Wash the tender stalks and cut into one inch pieces. Blanch for two minutes, chill for two minutes. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags, removing the air.

Cucumber: Chop in food processor--peeling is optional. Pack into airtight containers or freezer bags, making sure to seal well.

Eggplant: Wash, peel and slice. Blanch, cool and drain.

Mushrooms: Pack clean mushrooms in freezer bags, remove air, and freeze.

Onions: Peel and either chop or cut into rings. Wrap in layers of plastic wrap and store in an airtight plastic container or freezer bag. Freeze up to three months.

Parsnips: Remove tops, wash, peel and cut into ½ inch cubes or slices. Blanch, cool and drain.

Peas: Shell, wash, blanch for one minute, and chill for one minute. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags.

Peppers: Wash, remove seeds, and slice into strips. Freeze in the same manner as asparagus and store in freezer bags.

Potatoes: If they are new potatoes, scrub and cook in boiling water until they are almost done. Drain and let cool, then pack in freezer bags. You can also freeze mashed potatoes for up to three months.

Pumpkin and Squash: Wash, cut into small pieces and remove seeds. Cook until soft in boiling water. Remove skin. Mash cool, package and freeze.

Sweet corn: Clean well, making sure to remove all the silk. Cut off the top of the cob and wash again. Blanch for five-seven minutes, depending on size, and chill for five-seven minutes. Wrap each cob individually in plastic wrap after draining and store in a freezer bag.

Tomatoes: Wash and remove stems, cut into halves, quarters, or leave whole. Dry and pack into freezer bags and freeze.

Turnips: Wash, peel and cut into ½ inch cubes. Blanch, cool and drain.

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, it is not recommended that you keep these frozen vegetables over six months.

Blanching Vegetables

Blanching is a process of food preparation, usually a vegetable or fruit, is plunged into boiling water, removed after a brief interval, then plunged into iced water or placed under cold running water to halt the cooking process. Blanching neutralizes bacteria present in foods delaying spoilage. This is often done before freezing and refrigerating vegetables.

Disabled World - A list of vegetables that you can freeze including recommended freezer times for veggies:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dr. Oz comes to town

While I am generally not a big fan of a lot of doctors or hospitals after working in a hospital for 14 years and seeing my parents either die in a hospital or die because of a hospital but when I heard Dr. Oz was coming to Toronto to give a talk I got excited. Dr. Oz I believe is the exception to a lot of medical doctors because he treats the whole patient with healing practices not only found in western medicine but from practices that have worked around the world for centuries.

Dr. Oz knows how to talk to people... as in YOU and focuses on getting information to the heart of the matter since he is a heart surgeon he understands the fact that the head and the heart are connected when it comes to health.

He talked about how important it was to manage your blood pressure and to manage not just your weight but the circumference of your waist and it was important to feed your body less white stuff.. white rice, white flour, dairy, sugar etc. All things some of us know but he connects it to the why and what happens on the body... Basically it turns to fat stores which is where the problem comes in.

The big factors on health are obvious but we don't always do what we know we should do as I have said before myself, I know what I should eat but carb cravings take over and override it all. You know you have to give up smoking and avoid toxins in the environment including processed food and all the additives in things like pop and saturated fats etc. We know we need more sleep and better sleep and we also know that we need to reduce stress and exercise. But every once in a while you need Dr. OZ to show you some graphic pictures as to what will happen if you don't do these things. He is the great motivator to kick start a whole lot of people to think about her health.

I would recommend watching his show and have fun learning a thing or 2 and tips on what YOU can do to better your health. Even if you only make one change in your life that's one more than you did before.

If you ever get a chance to go see him in person DO IT. He will inspire you to do good things.

Eat better foods, take the proper supplements to boost the benefits of your foods and try and put your body into balance so that you can be healthy into your golden years. Think of the Golden Girl herself Betty White. Wouldn't you like to be a whitty old doll like her when you are her age? I am not even there now but wish I was.

Sante - to your health.

Friday, February 10, 2012

When Health meets taste you get RAWLICIOUS

When you think of Raw food or Organic Healthy food what do you think of? Bland, boring, healthy, dull food? Well it doesn't have to be that way. There is a good example of a place that makes it work in Yorkville and a few other locations and that's RAWLICIOUS restaurant on Cumberland St. I visited it today for lunch. It followed a healthy tour of the Big Carrot Grocery store on the Danforth for healthy shopping consultation with Julie Daniluk the Healthy Gourmet's nutritionist. I wanted to show the subject of the film we were shooting that there are places to eat at in Toronto that are healthy while still feeling like you aren't sacrificing taste.

First up we all ordered the Red Pepper Soup. It wasn't exactly raw as it was roasted red pepper soup and it was hot but it was really delicious and hit the spot on a cold day. It had a fresh roaster pepper full flavoured taste that just felt like comfort.

Next we ordered a couple of Taco flavoured creations. I ordered the Taco Salad and my lunch mate ordered the Taco Wrap. Similar but slightly different. The salad had a nice kick of spice that really perked up your taste buds. I am not usually a salad person but the avocado and taco flavourings sounded like huge flavour to me....and it was. I would go back for this salad anytime. It came with a couple of some kind of tortilla chip but I am not sure exactly what it was made of but it was something that was probably made in a dehydrator.
This is my Taco Salad:

This is the Taco Wrap:

it's wrapped in collard greens.

This place was a lovely little place on Cumberland St. just west of Yonge Street. The service was really good as well so it was a really great healthy lunch experience. I would recommend it if you need to skip the junk food and eat something that will help you get through your day.

They have a few locations but we were closest to Yorkville so that's the one we tried.

It really is RAWLICIOUS

Julie Daniluk meets the EcoLosers

I had the pleasure of filming Super Nutritionist Julie Daniluk at the Big Carrot Organic Grocery Store on the Danforth in Toronto today for a new Documentary called Eco Losers. It's about an Oakville family trying to lose weight and reduce their waste production to lower their Eco footprints. I am directing and filming the documentary and kind of acting like a food consultant along the way.

Heather and Paul are finding it challenging to choose the best food products that will give them the nutrition they need as well as not putting an eco burden on the Environment. Julie assisted them in choosing some great food products that will boost their ability to lose weight without boosting their Eco footprint. I think Heather and Paul learned more today about food than they have in a very long time.

As we are only in the second month of filming I hope that Julie's great advice will carry them forward to making better choices that will affect their weight loss goals over the course of our year of filming. I even learned a few things today.

Julie has just released her new Book called Meals that Heal Inflammation available at the Big Carrot, Indigo, Amazon and other booksellers, and it has great tips, information and recipes that Heather will now be able to use to guide her way through eating healthier foods.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sweet Hearts for your Sweethearts

February is the month of Love. It's the month that chocolate and candy sales go through the roof with people buying Chocolate and Candy confections to put their sweethearts in a sweet mood. The endorphins you get from eating chocolate are the same as getting it from sex. No wonder a lot of people are addicted to chocolate. I know more than a few chocoholics including myself.

Has Valentine's Day become just another way for marketers to cash in on an inflated holiday or a way for girls to guilt guys into showing their love for them?

What about all the single people like me that Love Chocolate and love the candies but don't have anyone to give them gifts of confectionary goods. Go out and buy them for yourself is what I say. Don't wait for anyone to give you what you want. Go out and buy them for yourself if you want them.

If you have a boyfriend that is anti-valentine's day or just to cheap or lazy to get you anything then you have 2 choices....1. Dump him or 2. Go get your own goodies.

I opt for 2 if he is good in other areas...but if he is no good all around then why are you keeping him/her around anyway.

If you are single go out and buy a lovely bouquet of flowers and your favourite sweet treat...not too much...but just enough to feel the sugar love.
Invite single friends over and have them bring some valentine's Day goodies and swap them with each other like you would for christmas gifts. That way nobody goes home without some treats.

Start a new tradition. Do something different. You don't have to do what is expected but if you do have a sweetheart do something unexpected often to show that you care anytime during the year so that it's more of a surprise than an expectation.

It's not about how much money you spend. You can buy a small truffle box of 4 Belgian chocolate truffles and wrap it up in a beautiful box and add 1 flower and that would be enough to show that you made an effort and that you care. It's not about the quantity it's about the quality.

You can even buy your friends and families favourite goodies and wrap them up nice and show them you love them just as much as your special someone.

Share the love and share the candy. Have some sweet treats with your sweetheart or your loved ones whoever they may be.

Sh*T happens in the KitchenS

Sometimes stuff doesn't go as planned in the kitchen even when you know what you are doing or have made something many times before. S%!T Happens.

Here is my example of the day:

Look at the picture of the frying pan above. It doesn't look like there is anything wrong with it but there is a big OH NO with it.
I wanted to make some frozen Pot sticker dumplings for lunch today and grabbed a frying pan but the pan I grabbed didn't have a lid so I just grabbed a lid from a big pot. One of those I thought it was a good idea at the time. I put some oil in the pan then tossed in the pot stickers and then added some water to steam them and then put the lid on top and left it to cook for a few minutes. So far so good... but then when I went to lift the lid to see if it was cooked all the way it wasn't budging.. I yanked on the lid as hard as I could but I guess with the steam it made a vacuum and shut it tight. So now my lunch is stuck in the pan and I can't get the lid off. I don't know what to do with this thing now. Do I ruin the lid and take a screwdriver to it to pry it open or do I chuck the whole thing with the dumplings in it? What would you do?

I have made dumplings at least a dozen times but have used different pans and lids so this has never happened. There is always a first time for something you have done with success in the past to go wrong. So if your souffles plop or your grilled cheese burns don't worry... S%1T happens and hopefully it won't happen the next time you do it. But if your souffles keep flopping then maybe its' time to fin another recipe or find something else to make.

Keep cooking and roll with the screw ups.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Priests secret Burger

I live in Uptown Toronto and after hearing about the much hyped Burger Joint "The Burger's Priest" I finally had a chance to check it out. I didn't check out the new uptown one but was down in the King St. Area so headed over to the original location on Queen St. East

Seems this place is a well known Secret location with a Secret menu apparantly. I didn't know about the secret menu so I just ordered a cheeseburger and fries. Probably what I would have ordered anyway. We got there just about 9pm and they closed at 9:30 so I guess we were sort of the last run of customers that night...which was also a snowy winter night so the streets were kind of empty.

This place is kind of a whole in the wall with about 4 stools you can't sit and eat at... only for waiting for burgers so we had to eat the burgers in the car in the parking lot while it was snowing. Not a real plus when you aren't anywhere near home.

I have to say that the burgers were delicious though with a taste that was a throw back to the burgers I could get as a kid. Real extra who knows what in it. This burger just tasted like good quality fresh ground beef cooked on a flat top grill... That's it... no tricks or hidden things or stuffed with random things. Just a burger you would find at one of those old drive through American diners in the 50's with the toppings to match. Simple toppings you would find at home like ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle. No fancy sauces and cheeses....a purist's dream.

I have to admit that I loved the taste of the pure burger and didn't miss gourmet toppings that hide the taste of meat. I had all the basics minus the pickles... but it wasn't overpowering and you could still really taste the seared beef.

I can't say as many good things about the fries though. They tasted ok but kind of soggy... like they were sitting around all day in grease and got mushy. I like my fries crispy outside and soft inside. That's probably more of a european way but that's how I like them. The fries just tasted like they were cooked in oil that was around for a long the fries were dark brown in color but not crispy the way you would think for that color.

I didn't take a pic of the fries but this is what the burger looked like.

Next time I will try the one closer to home at Yonge and Lawrence and see if there is any difference. There were line ups when it first opened so will see if I can get into that one sometime soon.

I would recommend the burger for sure... try the fries and tell me what you think.