Saturday, March 31, 2012

Power in a glass

This is power in a glass.

I am not a big smoothie person but I know that they are a great source of liquid nutrition that breaks down in the system efficiently.

I am not a banana lover other than banana breads so I am not fond of a lot of the smoothies you get at retail stores.

My favourite smoothie that doesn't taste like a smoothie to me is from Jugo Juice. I get a Powerzone drink that tastes like a strawberry tropical desert but it has protein powders in it that will give me a boost about an hour after I drink it. It's the one thing I have found that tastes great and that I can actually feel it working.

I don't like a lot of the chalky tasting protein powder shakes and smoothies so I have been trying different things at trade shows and from markets around town.

After reading a bit in Julie Daniluk's book Healing Inflammation she recommends using Hemp protein instead of whey or soy protein. So I picked up some chocolate flavoured Hemp protein. It doesn't have that strong smell like some of the other ones have.

I tried to mix it with a bunch of super boosters into a power smoothie. I have all these super charged ingredients but I am trying to figure out how to make them all palatable. If it doesn't taste good I won't eat or drink it.

This experiment consisted of the following ingredients.

Frozen Strawberries
Fresh blueberries
1 tbsp chocolate Hemp protein
1 tsp maca powder
1/4 tsp bee pollen
1/4 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp raw honey
1/4 cup coconut milk

I blended it all together in the blender and the picture above is what it looks like.

It's a bit gel like in it's consistency and I don't know if that's the chia seeds or what did that. It doesn't taste too bad but I think I need to experiment with the consistency.

Will see how this works in my body today and if it gives me the energy I need to get through my day.

I have had low energy and I am trying to find healthy and tasty ways to get more nutrition into my body.

I would recommend the chocolate hemp protein and I think once I get the right formulation of other things to use in it I think I might be able to get used to it.

I have a serious carb addiction and still want some bread for breakfast but I am hoping to try and switch to other healthier options in the future.

I added the blueberries because it's an antioxidant super brain food and the strawberries are also great antioxidants that are great for skin.

So this concoction is an antioxidant, protein, brain and energy super drink that is supposed to provide enough fibre and binding agents to eliminate all the toxins out of your body.

Will see...

Looks like Spring Asparagus Tart

My friend and financial advisor helps me do my taxes every year and to thank her I try and cook her a nice meal when she comes over to work on my tax return. This year I made something different and something I have never made before but I decided to make it because I wanted to make something vegetable based and I felt like making a savoury tart.

I made a leek, asparagus and goat cheese tart. It looked, and tasted like spring. It was kind of like a cross between a quiche and a tart.

How I did it.

1 large or 2 small leeks
1 bunch of asparagus with hard stalks cut off
4 eggs
1 layer of frozen puff pastry dough defrosted
1 small shallot chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons of soft goat cheese
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter

I first (blind baked) meaning I baked the tart crust in the oven using beans to keep it flattened instead of puffing up. I cooked it until lightly browned.

Cut the leeks into half moon slices and clean well. Saute the leeks with the diced shallots slowly in a medium to low heat pan in the olive oil and butter mix and seasoning with salt and pepper. You can add parsley or other seasonings to this mix if you like. Cook until translucent and softened.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling water until bright green and then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Let the leeks, asparagus and the puff pastry cool before assembling.

Make sure you have a border crust on your puff pastry so that the egg mixture doesn't leak out.

Mix the leeks and shallot mixture into the 4 beaten eggs and pour onto the puff pastry crust. Arrange the asparagus tips around the tart and put small spoonfuls of the goat cheese on top of the asparagus around the tart. Grate parmesan cheese over the whole tart.

Bake in a 400degree oven for about 20-25 min or until the eggs are cooked and it is slightly browned.

I used a removable bottom flan pan but it would be nicer in a rectangular pan.

My friend loved it so much that she took a piece home for her boyfriend. So I guess I will make this recipe again. It would be a nice brunch recipe but i could see it being great for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It was fairly easy to prepare using already rolled out puff pastry and it looks impressive if you assemble it well. I think food stylists would like this one.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuna Tartare's perfect pair AvocadoT

This is one of my guilty pleasures. Tuna tartare with Avocado. They are a perfect pair together. One of my favourite places to get tuna tartare with Avocado is at Nota Bene on Queen St. West. A little appetizer plate of it costs $18 there and I could eat 2 of them easily.

Yesterday I was down at Harbourfront and decided to stop by the St. Lawrence Market and pick up some fish for dinner and I picked up some sushi grade Tuna and Salmon. On the drive home all I could think of was how much I wanted to make tuna tartare with Avocado and luckily I had the other ingredients to go into it.

As soon as I got home I quickly put things away so I could get to the good stuff.

What's in my version?

1 Avocado chopped in small pieces
1 squeezed lime
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. small red onion diced or shallots or green onion
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Tuna tartare:

About 2 to 3 inch thick piece of sushi grade Tuna. must be sushi grade to eat it raw.
! tsp or to taste of sesame oil.
I used a combo of black and white sesame seeds with salt seasoning.

What I did to assemble it.

I used a ring and first put some of the avocado mix in the bottom of the ring followed by some of the tuna mix and then more avocado and another layer of tuna and then some of the cilantro.

You can also make it spicier by adding a quarter of a jalapeno pepper finely diced or even adding some wasabi, tabasco or saracha paste. I used the paste on the plate.

I attempted to make it pretty like they do in the restaurants just for this blog post but I used the second half of the piece of tuna and I just mixed it all in a bowl.

I ate them with some great President's Choice Habanero Lime tortilla chips. At Nota bene they make it a little different and I think they use other flavourings and they serve it with a couple of taro chips.

I like them both... Sushi grade Tuna is my guilty pleasure because I know that tuna isn't the best environmental choice but it tastes like butter when mixed with Avocado. It's just light yummy goodness. It doesn't taste fishy, it just tastes very satisfying.

Try it at home or try it in a restaurant but just try it if you like Tuna.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Storing your food

How do you store your food in your cupboards and pantry? Is it all in the original packaging but flip flopping all over the place on your shelves?

Here's a case of the old way is the right way to store food. Back in the day grandmothers used to put their food in mason jars because they used to try and preserve the food they made for as long as possible to get through the winter seasons. It was normal to put a lot of things in mason jars. Now it seems new and different. How funny is it that people forgot what used to be the only choices and now people are actually choosing to go back to the time before there was a million choices.

Things like nuts go rancid if they aren't stored in airtight containers and stored away from heat.

I had bought a second bag of walnuts because the bag of nuts got hidden on the shelf. With this mason jar storage you can see what you have and it stores nicely on your shelves making it a quick look through when you have to see what you need.

I am trying to organize my kitchen so that whenever I have a whim to whip up something great I don't have to go digging for things only to find out that things have gone bad because the containers didn't keep them fresh for very long.

I also like the way this all looks uniform in the cupboard while the original packaging just looks crazy and messy. Why advertise for manufacturers when you are buying nuts and seeds which come from mother nature but are just processed by some manufacturer. Keep it real. Another case of Granny was right... well, I didn't know my grannies but I know someone's grannies did this at some time in their life.

Old school is new school.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Food that's not worth making at home.

Sometimes it's just not worth cooking food at home especially when you live in a small apartment.
I know you don't know where your food is coming from when you eat at restaurants, but there is also economics and time and convenience that factor into dinner decisions.

I have decided that there are a couple of things that just aren't worth making at home for me.

1. Sushi - because I don't live next to a fish market with sushi grade fish and can't always make it right away so it's just not worth making the rice and going way out of the way to get good fish and then having to be careful about preparing it.

2. Indian Food unless you are just having something easy like butter chicken with the sauce that comes out of a jar. Cooking indian food requires a whole lot of spices and a whole lot of time to prepare a lot of the dishes. Most of the tasty sauces require layering flavours slowly and allowing them to simmer to develop the intense flavours. Then your house smells like indian spices for days afterward. It's a nice smell when you are eating the food but I don't think you want to smell it when you are eating pizza the next day. The other thing I love about Indian food is the Naan bread but it's not going to have the same taste at home without the tandoor oven and it's not likely that any apartments in the city are ever going to have them any time soon.

3. Korean food is the next thing that I probably won't make too much of at home. I can buy the kimchi in any store now but it's the other Korean foods that just aren't worth hunting down special ingredients or trying to figure out how to make them. Then there is the way they prepare and cook it.
The other reason it's just not worth it for me to cook Korean food at home is because I can walk across the street and take my pick of at least 2 Korean restaurants to eat in.

I just had this Bim Bim Bap at a Restaurant a quick walk across the street from where I live. Total time walking there was less than 10 min. from my door. There was no ttc, gas or parking involved. Just the old fashioned walking to get your food. For under $20 including tip I had the BimbimBap and kimchi, and other assorted Korean small dishes and of course the tea.

The best part was that it was delicious. I didn't have to go to a specialty Korean grocery store or find a supermarket that carries the ingredients, which means that I didn't have to spend an hour or possibly more going to the store, parking, trying to find the ingredients, bringing them home and putting them away or preparing them, then cooking the meal and then cleaning up afterwards. I would say about 3 hours in total of time spent to make a meal like this. And I am sure I would have spent a whole lot more than $20 on the various ingredients needed to make all of these things. The reason you pay more to eat at restaurants is because they save you all the time it takes to have these meals.

Then there is my least favourite part after making something at home.....DOING THE DISHES. I am much happier spending the $15-$20 to have someone else do the dishes...thank you very much.

Anyway... I figure the total time spent having dinner tonight was a half an hour, giving me the time to now write this blog.

Some times you just have to leave certain cooking to the experts that do it for a living everyday and spend your time doing other things that they aren't doing.

So thank you to the nice Korean restaurant for making me a satisfying meal and giving me some more free time and keeping my apartment clean and my wallet with a little more green in it.

What foods do you prefer to let someone else cook for you?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Make your own frozen french fries

I have to admit that I am getting really inspired or influenced by the documentary I am working on "Eco Losers" because I have been doing a lot of research and looking for information that will be useful for the documentary but at the same time I have been finding some shocking stuff that goes on in the food world and in what happens to the packaging that you buy when you grocery shop. While I will never be as extreme as my subjects are for their challenge I have been experimenting with things and trying new things and trying to switch up a few things.

Today's experiment was making frozen french fries. I decided to make these because I had a few organic potatoes that were starting to sprout so I knew I had to make them before I would have to throw them out. Buying a bag of potatoes is challenging for a single person unless you have a potato obsession. I don't eat as many white potatoes as I used to but I do like to make roast potatoes with chicken once in a while and lots of recipes need potatoes but generally I have a hard time finishing off a bag of them. So this time I thought what if I prepped and froze the potatoes for later so that if I ever wanted to make some quick potatoes and didn't have any fresh ones I would be ready. So I decided to make french fries since that requires a bit more pre prep work and I thought it would be easy to store in the freezer. I had a quick look online for the best way to do it and found that the best way was to cut the fries and then rinse and blanch them in boiling water to par cook them. Then I drained them and placed them on a sheet pan..try snd keep them seperated before you put them into the freezer and just freeze on the sheet pan until they are frozen solid. Then you can take them out and toss them in a ziploc bag and they will be seperated so you can grab a handful as needed. I didn't add any seasonings and prefer to add them later depending on what I do with them.

I used to have this thing that cut potatoes into fries but it wasn't that sharp so it required a lot of muscle but I wanted to find something to cut the fries evenly so that they cook at the same time. Also to cut things like carrot sticks etc. for parties and to pre prep for other things as well.

I found this starfrit thing at Canadian Tire. It does the french fries and also does slices which will be nice for things like cucumbers and other vegetables.

It worked pretty well. a lot faster than if I tried to cut perfect fries and it had a container that it went into so there was no mess. Although if I had chef quick knife skills I would probably be able to do this more efficiently with a chef knife and a cutting board.. but since my skills aren't that great I like to find kitchen toys.

It did the job and hopefully I will find more uses for it to make it worth the money.

Now I have fries prepped for today's dinner and more in the freezer for another day and I didn't have to buy a bag of toxic preservative laden bag of fries.

Because of the documentary we will be going to farms and farmers markets over the summer and I hope to find ways to preserve some of the foods that we get there and find creative ways to do that. They are trying to eliminate as much packaging as possible and my goal is to eliminate as many preservatives and toxins that go into my body and also to save some money in the process.

Some of these things require a little more effort but some of them don't. Some things are just a little start up energy like getting my new little chopper to make it easier to do prep work in the future.

Sow the seeds now and reap the rewards later.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Do you have a microwave oven?

Another scary thing to think about.

I just read this article and it made me think about whether I should keep my microwave oven or not?

I don't use it all the time and lived without one for a couple of years. I always wondered what it did to your food since sometimes I noticed that I didn't feel as good after a meal cooked or reheated in a microwave. The only thing I actually cook in it is sweet potatoes and things like that. I do use it to heat up frozen meals that I have prepared and stored in glass containers. I stopped microwaving in plastic containers years ago and cringe every time I see someone microwaving things in plastic or styrofoam containers. I also wonder about eating at certain restaurants because you don't know what they are doing to prepare your food. I used to go to a well known sandwich shop to pick up a bagel for breakfast when I was at work. I watched as the counter help person poured some sort of egg mixture into a tupperware bowl and then proceeded to microwave it making an omelet concoction. After seeing that I will never order any eggs in a place like that. But I am sure there are a lot more places that use the microwave for a lot of the food preparation. I think Burger King just nukes their burgers once they assemble them even. The food world is becoming a very scary place these days.

I have been slowly doing a food assessment on the foods and cooking methods that I have been using. I spent a lifetime learning how to cook things and now need another lifetime learning how to undo the mistakes I have made in the convenient food choices. In the food world it is an "Inconvenient Truth" to realize what's really going on.

I am still thinking about possibly getting rid of the microwave as it will free up some needed kitchen space and save on electricity and one more appliance to clean.

Do you have a microwave? Do you still want one?

something to think about.

'Best Before' dates. how long to keep food

'Best Before' confusion leading to needless food waste | CTV News

I have been going through my fridge trying to use up food that is starting to go bad but there were a few items that I hadn't even touched before the best before dates so I wondered if the item wasn't opened how long would it still last?  I had lots of dairy items like yoghurt, sour cream and milk that had expired dates.  I had a container of creme fraiche that wasn't even touched and I opened it and it was still perfect so I am assuming if it doesn't smell bad and hasn't gotten any mold and is very close to the best before date and it hasn't been opened it should still be good.   But I wondered about all the food that I have tossed out in the past without even looking at it.   I am trying a lot harder to not waste as much food as I used to but I am also trying to make sure that I buy and eat better food and buying more organic foods means shorter shelf life.
They are building a Whole Foods Market within walking distance of my house but until that opens I have to shop smarter and use my food wiser so that I don't throw money in the landfill.   I can't even do composting because I live in an apartment so I have to just think smarter and plan better.

I am used to living in a house with the ability to have a pantry and extra freezer so that I can make up big batches of food and store it in a freezer if it can't be finished.  I have lots of food stored in my freezer already but I don't have the unlimited space anymore so I need to change the way I think when I go shopping.    I always liked to have things on hand so that I could make anything when I was in the mood to cook up some things.   Planning is not my forte.  I need to work on that.

The article above is interesting and probably going to be helpful to people that shop like me.

Shop smarter, waste less food.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mexican spring refresh saladI

Mexican Fiesta Spring Salad

It's only March but you would never know it with temperatures of 25c over the past couple of days. Spring or summer seems to have arrived a month early. Every spring you haul out all of your spring and summer clothes to wear and sometimes you are hit with a bit of a shock when they don't seem to fit anymore. Oh no.. what to do? Well I had to go to a meeting today which meant I had to scrounge through my wardrobe trying to find some professional looking spring clothes. I found a pair of dress pants I usually only have to wear occasionally. And today I know why. After a winter of comfort foods it was a struggle to feel comfortable in last years clothes. I had to go downtown for the meeting and it was a beautiful day and normally I might have wandered around downtown but because I was uncomfortable in those last years pants I had to come home and change. What does this have to do with food? Everything.. It's the winter of excess heavy comfort foods and staying indoors and sitting around more that contributes to the winter pounds.

In the spring you want to shed the excess weight and feel light and fresh. Ditching those heavy winter shoes and boots and coats and even socks, gloves and hats. You lose 5 pounds or more just by ditching that clothing.

So when spring rolls around you start thinking about lighter fare for lunches and dinners. Today I decided to do a mexican fiesta flavoured salad for dinner.

This was a good idea because I not only made a flavourful, healthy and delicious salad but it seemed to clear out the fridge of things that don't get used up often enough like cilantro and jalapenos and limes. My fridge is a lot lighter now too and ready for some fresh new spring harvest foods.

If you want to make a salad like this here's what I put into it.

1/4 of a head of iceberg lettuce
1 romaine salad heart
6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 whole avocado sliced
1 tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese
1 green pepper small diced
1/4 of an onion, I used yellow but it's better with a red onion
2 chopped green onions
1/4 cup of charred corn kernels
1/2 jalapeno pepper minced or to taste
pinch of cumin
pinch of chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
chipotle pepper to taste


2 limes zested and squeezed into a measuring cup
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tbsp tomatillo salsa
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cumin
8 drops of tabasco sauce

The only thing that was cooked was the corn and tortillas. I just used frozen corn and charred it in a cast iron pan and added chipotle pepper, cumin, chili pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. I used whole wheat flour tortillas that I fried in the same cast iron pan after the corn was done.


Add the lettuces in a bowl and then top with all of the rest of the vegetables and then the cheddar cheese and dressing and put the tortilla chips around the outside of the salad.

You can add what you like but these are the flavours I like and what I had on hand.

You could add sour cream or even chili to the salad to make it a taco salad. I would serve the chili on the side so that you can keep it hot and keep the salad crisp that way.

It's light but still satisfying with the creaminess of the avocados and the heat of the jalapenos. A great way to feel like the hot weather is near.

Mex it up... enjoy

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eat what your Grandma ate

What did your Grandma eat? Eat that.

I am listening to this audio book right now. Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" It's kind of mind blowing at how greedy companies have destroyed food production as I have stated in my last post.

It seems as though a good direction to follow when it comes to your food choices is to think about what your Grandmother would have eaten when she was young. Think of her next to you when you go grocery shopping and if she doesn't know what you are choosing to buy then don't get it. Anything that has more than 5 ingredients in it has been processed. I picked up a loaf of bread from the grocery store in plain plastic packaging and actually read the ingredients.. there wasn't anything weird in there so I bought it. But the tasty wonderbread stuff has a list of about 20 ingredients. Bread only needs to have flour, water, yeast and salt or sugar plus any flavourings like cheese or for sweet bread. It doesn't need anything else.

Food is supposed to rot. Imagine what would happen if your body was a plastic bag that was tied up and you kept stuffing GARBAGE (food that doesn't break down) in it and it didn't have a hole or opening but stuff just kept getting stuffed in. What if the bag couldn't handle the weight of it or couldn't stretch to fit all the garbage. Yup..think of that visual and then think of what's happening in your body when you put the same junk in it that doesn't break down. I look at photos of myself and can see the years of crap I put in my body out of stress and convenience.

He also makes the connection in the book between the food you eat and the environment. The food that is produced now is stripped of the vitamins and minerals and omega 3's that it had in the past. You have to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients you got 50 years ago. So we keep eating which drains the food supply which makes the companies more money and then they make the food faster and cheaper and make more money while we strip the environment and get fatter in the process. Then the drug companies develop drugs to solve the problems the bad food has created and the hospitals seek more money to treat the diseases once they get past the point of where the drugs will solve the problems.

Here'a a thought.... what if we just go back to eating the way we used to ... buy whole Organic foods which is the equivalent of what a regular fruit and vegetable was in the past and we eat less meat and make everything from scratch at home. Spend more money on food, spend more time producing it and spend more time eating it with your friends and families. There might be a good chance that the greedy companies get the message and stop producing the processed foods and the drug companies only focus on drugs that are needed instead of the quick fix lifelong dependent drugs. Shift the focus to prevention and invest your money in food instead of drugs. As I told a friend recently. You can pay more for your food now or you can pay more to get back your health later.

I always liked to cook but because of my crazy life in the past 10 years I have cooked less and less and have gained more and more weight and truly feeling the effects now. I am trying to buy better quality food and have been cooking more than I have in a while. It's a slow process but I am trying to control my food again. I am sick of feeling sick and tired and don't want to leave my health into other people's greedy hands.

Take less food, eat better food, spend more time doing it. a bit of Micheal Pollan's good advice.

Get Real...Eat Real Food.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who and Where does your Food come from?

I saw a Jennifer Baichwal film called PAYBACK last night which is based on a book by Margaret Atwood. What does this have to do with food? Well, the film goes through debts to society in all forms. One of the forms was in the environment. Margaret Atwood said in the Q&A afterward that "YOu CAN'T PAY FISH" meaning when companies like BP destroy the water sources they can't pay the fish to go away and solve the problem. Greed seems to be the thing that is what is destroying our planet. Greed of industries trying to cut back on safety measures to our food sources and the eco systems in the world with the only consideration being their bottom line profits.

One of the other things the film touched on was the farmers in Florida that were fighting to get a PENNY more an hour and the Food Production companies were saying that it was UN American to pay another cent an hour for them and that it would make the food unaffordable to the general public. What do you think? Would you pay an extra penny for a bunch of tomatoes if you knew that it would help farm workers to not have slavery jobs in the U.S.? I thought so.

The other thing that it made me think about which I have been thinking about a lot lately is that we don't actually know where most of our food is coming from and who are the people in charge of farming or picking it in most cases. The only way you can know where your food comes from is to either grow it yourself or buy it from a LOCAL Farmer's Market where you know the farmer, where his farm is and his practices. Is the farmer an organic farmer, does the farmer grow chickens that are caged in small pens and fed hormones to increase their growth? When you go to the grocery store and a product just says "Product of Mexico" or "Produce of the USA" what does that really tell you? Not Enough. You don't know if the production of it was humane or organic unless it says CERTIFIED Organic. It doesn't say Certified Humane does it? So how are we supposed to know what really goes on every time we buy a tomato. These companies keep these practices their dirty little secret by threatening the already underpaid workers with losing their jobs or in some case the threat of deportation as most are migrant workers that are doing the jobs that other people don't want to do. Farming is hard work. You have to work fast and in hot conditions and usually back breaking ways. I love the Food Network show "Pitchin In" because Chef Lynn Crawford goes to farms across the US and Canada and learns about how their food is produced. But those are always the good farms because there is no way that the offenders would open up their practices to a Canadian tv show.

Do we have to find out by watching investigative Documentaries like Food Inc. and the new film Payback? There are so many more cancers in the world now than there was 50 years ago. My thought is because of the push to make money for a select few who are willing to do anything to make it without a thought to the ripple effect on the planet. The instant gratification of the Greedy who want their money now and don't care who dies because of their actions. It is a scary world where you have to think twice before you eat a Tomato. Where a penny can make the difference between slave labour and ethically produced food.

Things need to change or their won't be any food left on the planet that won't be Genetically modified or just a toxic soup full of chemicals that will kill off the planet.

A few people are basically strangling the planet and it needs to change or we will destroy it permanently. Buy CERTIFIED Organic when you can because it is more expensive because of the strict growing practices. Grow your own vegetables when you can so that you can show the supermarkets and food producers that you aren't willing to buy their toxic produce. Buy directly from ethical farmers and skip the greedy middle men.

If you know the Source you can make informed decisions. This sounds easier than it is to practice unfortunately but it shouldn't be.

Because of the documentary I am working on we plan to visit many farmers markets and farms this spring and summer and I will try and post a list of the places we visit that are doing the right thing.
Get Smart, Buy Smart, Save lives.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food Trucks get no love from the City.

One of the Coolest shows on the Food Network is called Eat St. which is a show all about the Food Trucks in the U.S. mostly. Although there are some in Vancouver.... BUT NOT TORONTO... Why? Because there is a stupid By Law in place at City Hall that says a food truck can only park in a parking lot for 10 minutes. So you can park your car for hours but a food truck can only park for 10 minutes. The City allows Cancer causing Hot Dog and French Fry vendors but forget about Diversity...they tried the A la Carte version but that totally flopped with the ridiculous fees and rules. It's time to Amend the stupid city by law and let Food Trucks Rule. Sometimes you want to grab something quick, tasty and cheap while you are trying to rush through your day. It doesn't compete with the sit down restaurants because if you had the time and money to take a leisurely lunch break you would. Some people just need to grab some grub on the run. Why does the only grub and go have to be street meat and toxic fries?

Food trucks are the hottest thing in the US.. we have some great food trucks here but they just can't do any business other than at special events. Let them operate 365 days a year so they can make a living and feed the rushed masses.

Pleas sign the Petition for the Food Cabbie and for Caplansky's to operate at a Queen St. E. parking lot.

Support FOOD CABBIE'S fight to amend By-law 545-269G Petition | GoPetition

Let's see our food trucks being featured on the next Eat st. series.

The people of Toronto are Hungry for Food Trucks so it's time we get more of them around town.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What do Men and Women really want?

Wonder what Men and Women really want? Well it seems as though Food is the ultimate equalizer as I have always thought. We all want Food. When it comes down to it out brains rule by food most of the time. A way to a man or womans heart is through Ice Cream.

Source: via di on Pinterest

Friday, March 9, 2012

Are you a Chocoholic?

Are you a Chocoholic? My name is Linda and I am a Chocoholic.

I downsized from a house to an apartment so for months I have been going through old things that I just kept in the basement hidden away for someday to go through. Well now is someday because I have to go through it all and get rid of things I don't really need anymore. While I was going through some old school books and papers I found a bunch of chocolate bar wrappers. What did you do when you were a kid that other kids didn't do? I sent away for chocolate wrappers from Chocolate companies and stickers from printers. But it is kind of interesting stumbling on this stuff I have kept for over 30 years. I suppose I was a CHOCOHOLIC at a young age but didn't really know it. When I was a kid my dad would buy big Hershey chocolate bars and he would hide them away from my brother and I. They smoked cigarettes back then and had a full stock of liquor that they only pulled out for parties and they kept the cigarettes and the liquor in an unlocked cabinet within reach but I can say I was never interested in either the alcohol or the cigarettes. I don't know if my brother cared either but I do know that my brother had a blood hound sense for chocolate and could sniff it out when it was in the house and would open every drawer until he found it. My dad wasn't very creative in his hiding spots and it was generally in only 3 or 4 different places but he did try and keep it out of sight so that we wouldn't demolish it in one chocoholic fit. When I got a little older in my teens and my friends would come over they were more interested in the alcohol and cigarettes. I couldn't care less about them because they were always there and I hated the smell of the cigarettes when my parents were sitting on the couch smoking together. I have never smoked in my life but I have had a life long addiction to chocolate. I don't need to go to REHAB for chocolate but I could eat chocolate every day of my life and would be very happy about that.

What I think is that when we are kids and our parents restrict certain things it makes us want it more. My parents didn't have curfews and I didn't have to be home at a certain time after a party but at that age we all went home early anyway so it was never an issue. But the restriction in my house was the amount of chocolate we had access to. When we were good my parents gave us chocolate. I believe the restriction of things is what makes it become an addiction because it hits whatever part of the brain tells you that you shouldn't have or do something.

It is interesting that I have held onto these wrappers for all these years. I am thinking that I might turn them into some sort of artwork possibly so that I can keep them around as a memory of when my chocolate addiction started.

Chocolate has some great properties but also depending on the quality of the chocolate and the amount eaten it can have very unhealthy properties. Stick with a good quality organic fair trade dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher for the best chocolate for your health.

I think there is a science to eating chocolate for your health and mental health. Chocolate is given for Valentines Day to get love from the receiver.

Chocolate is Love and Chocolate can make you feel good by kicking up the seratonin level and endorphins and because of the following things:

Information from Cocoaweb website:
Chocolate Ingredients

Cocoa beans contain approximately 50% fat. It is primarily comprised of two saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic acids) and one mono-unsaturated acid (oleic acid). Cocoa butter and chocolate do not raise blood cholesterol. However, when consuming milk chocolate or lower grade chocolate where a part of the total fat content comes from milk fat or various other types of fat, the cholesterol level might be adversely affected.

The cacao bean contains quite a lot of carbohydrates, but most of it is starch, soluble dietary fibers, and insoluble dietary fibers. A very small proportion is simple sugars. Sugar is added during the manufacture of chocolate.

Cocoa beans contain polyphenols (similar to those found in wine) with antioxidant properties which are health beneficial. These compounds are called flavonoids and include catechins, epicatechins, and procyandins. The antioxidant flavinoids are found in the nonfat portions of the cocoa bean. The flavinoids also reduce the blood's ability to clot and thus reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Theobromine is a very mild stimulant with a mild diuretic action (increases the production of urine). Theobromine can be toxic to animals like dogs, cats, parrots and horses.

Cocoa beans contains a very low amount of caffeine, much less than found in coffee, tea and cola drinks.

Phenylethylamine is a slight antidepressant and stimulant similar to the body's own dopamine and adrenaline.

Cocoa and chocolate can increase the level of serotonine in the brain. Serotonine levels are often decreased in people with depression and in those experiencing PMS symptoms.

Essential minerals
Cocoa beans are rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

Are you a chocoholic?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Great Big Crunch Day this Thursday

Have some fun this thursday and participate in Foodshare's Great Big Crunch Day.

I took my photo early to put it on my blog before thursday but get out your delicious and preferably organic Apples and take a big bite out of it and take a photo of yourself eating the apple and post it onto Twitter if you have an account and add the hashtag #greatbigcrunch
and follow @foodshareTO

Help break last years record.

Oreo turns 100 but you won't.

The Oreo Cookie turns 100 today. How many Oreo Cookies do you think you have eaten in your life. I probably haven't had as many as the average because my parents hardly ever bought them and I have only bought them a few times myself. I prefer chocolate chip cookies. But not that that's any better for me. Lately I have been making a homemade healthier chocolate chip cookie that my friends son seems to be totally in love with. He won't eat much but loves those cookies.

So many of us are COOKIE MONSTERS because our mom's gave us cookies when we were kids to make us happy or quiet depending on what was going on. I wonder how many less cookies kids would have eaten if these moms knew what was in those harmless looking little tasty cookies. So I wondered since the Oreo Cookie turns 100 today what is in these things. The Oreo Cookie may be 100 years old but I bet that eating them won't get you to 100 years old.

I looked up the nutritional facts from the Nabisco site and noticed that one of the Ingredients listed was HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. This is one of the Ingredients that needs to change in baked goods because it causes so much damage to us and is a contributor to obesity in kids and adults.
I also looked up the definition of High Fructose corn syrup on Wikipedia. Have a look at what this stuff is and then decide if you want to chomp down on a package of Oreo Cookies. Be informed and take charge of what you are putting into your body. Kids shouldn't grow up fat they should have the best health they can possibly have to give them the best chances for a happy life.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)—also called glucose-fructose syrup[1][2] in the UK, glucose/fructose[3] in Canada, and high-fructose maize syrup in other countries—comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. In the United States, consumer foods and products typically use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. It has become very common in processed foods and beverages in the U.S., including breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments.[4]
According to the USDA, HFCS consists of 24% water, and the rest sugars. The most widely used varieties of high-fructose corn syrup are: HFCS 55 (mostly used in soft drinks), approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose; and HFCS 42 (used in beverages, processed foods, cereals and baked goods), approximately 42% fructose and 53% glucose.[5][6] HFCS-90, approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose, is used in small quantities for specialty applications, but primarily is used to blend with HFCS 42 to make HFCS 55.[7]
In the U.S., HFCS is among the sweeteners that have primarily replaced sucrose (table sugar) in the food industry. Factors for this include governmental production quotas of domestic sugar, subsidies of U.S. corn, and an import tariff on foreign sugar; all of which combine to raise the price of sucrose to levels above those of the rest of the world, making HFCS less costly for many sweetener applications. Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions[8] , and that in some foods HFCS may be a source of mercury, a known neurotoxin.[9][10] The Corn Refiners Association disputes these claims and maintains that HFCS is comparable to table sugar.[11] Studies by the American Medical Association suggest "it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose", but welcome further independent research on the subject.[12] Further reviews in the clinical literature have disputed the links between HFCS and obesity,[13] diabetes,[14] and metabolic syndrome,[13] and concluded that HFCS is no different from any other sugar in relationship to these diseases.[dubious – discuss] HFCS has been classified generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1976.[15]
However, consumers in the United States no longer have access to accurate ingredient labels that establish the presence of High Fructose Corn Syrup in food products. Manufacturers are permitted to label High Fructose Corn Syrup, as "Corn Syrup" in the ingredient listing of the product packaging. [16]

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lifestyle choices made in your 20s can impact your heart health in your 40s

Lifestyle choices made in your 20s can impact your heart health in your 40s

From this study it looks like I did a couple of things right but a lot of things wrong and I am paying for it now. The good thing I did was that I never smoked. I always thought it was gross and a waste of money. the other good thing I did for my body but not as much for my social life was to no drink alcohol in excess. I can barely finish one drink if I go out to a bar. But the exercise part... not so good. the 3 times I joined a gym where the 3 times the gym changed ownership or I lost a job or got too busy with a new job and didn't go. One of my biggest regrets now is that I didn't get into a habit of regular exercise when I was young to the point of it just being a part of my schedule. Now I can barely muster enough energy to do half of what I want to do. The other thing I wish I had done years ago was eat better... still struggling with that.... cravings keep getting the best of me. I guess for people that drink alcohol they put their cravings into the drink instead of the food. Either way neither of these practices are good.

I always feel like I have an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil sitting on the other and the two of them are battling it out over what I should eat. The Devil says eat that fatty beef and cheese and the angel says eat some leafy greens. Guess who wins out most of the time.... well I guess you could say I am no Angel in the food department. I want to do better but can't seem to keep up on just eating healthy. I wish I could just turn off a crappy food craving switch and adjust it to only good things for me. Some people can do it but I haven't figured out how to be one of those people yet. But I am working on it. As usual a work in progress.

Stop the Cycle of Obesity

This is a very powerful video about the influence of parental control on obesity in children who become obese adults.

When I was a kid food was love to my mother. When she wanted to make me happy she made cookies or some other kind of favourite food. I love food but interesting that when I was a kid I was picky and didn't like everything but my mother always wanted me to eat stuff. Not always healthy but she really didn't know any better.

Parents need to be educated. When kids are small they have no control over what they eat other than to refuse eating things they don't like. Parents need to be educated on nutrition and the importance of giving your children the best foods to give them a healthy start in life.

My parents were hard working people with not a lot of money and not a lot of time to spend with my brother and I except at dinner times. Family time was usually spent involving food. I wonder if things would have been different if the focus was on healthy food and activity. I guess I will never know now that they are both gone.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Top 12 superfoods for 2012

Top 12 superfoods for 2012

I bet you have never heard of some of these foods and unless you live in Australia you probably aren't going to find Kangaroo meat at your local market..... but you can choose some of these things like Avocado, Pomegranate, chick peas etc.

Quinoa is now widely available... what is it? It's what they call an Ancient Grain. It's kind of like making tiny rice.. you cook it for about 20 minutes and it has kind of a nutty taste. You can have it cold or hot and mix sweet and savoury things into it like cranberries or veggies.
Farro is also an old Italian Grain like pasta but with a higher nutritional content than regular pasta.

Pick one thing on this list that you have never tried and do an experiment. Find it in your local grocery store and then try and find a recipe to use it and see if you like it and can adopt it into your regular diet.

I had my avocado yesterday when I made some fajita style tacos... who knew Guacamole was so good for you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Amaranth what is it?

What is Amaranth anyway?

Well it's an ancient grain that has incredible health properties.

Any plant of the genus Amaranthus (family Amaranthaceae), typically having small green, red, or purple flowers.

This was my first attempt at making AMARANTH Porridge. I never had this growing up but I have been trying to experiment with foods I am unfamiliar with that are high in nutrition value and this is one of those things.

There is a recipe for this in Julie Daniluk's book Meals that Heal Inflammation

My first attempt was close but I would recommend cooking the amaranth until it's lost it's grainy consistency.

It takes about 30 minutes to cook in simmering water. After it was fully cooked I added cinnamon which also has a lot of healing properties and I added agave to sweeten it and a touch of brown sugar just for the flavour. I tossed in some fresh blueberries to bump up the antioxidant boost and also for flavour and fibre.
You could add maple syrup for flavour and sweetness or even something like coconut oil or milk would be good.

This is the nutritional value breakdown of Amaranth.

Amaranth, cooked

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 429 kJ (103 kcal)
Carbohydrates 19 g
- Dietary fiber 2 g
Fat 2 g
Protein 4 g
Water 75 g
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.02 mg (2%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.02 mg (2%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.24 mg (2%)
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg (8%)
Folate (vit. B9) 22 μg (6%)
Calcium 47 mg (5%)
Iron 2.1 mg (16%)
Magnesium 65 mg (18%)
Manganese 0.9 mg (43%)
Phosphorus 148 mg (21%)
Potassium 135 mg (3%)
Zinc 0.9 mg (9%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

I am still working on my experimentation and I hope to find a balance of great nutrition and great taste. If it's healthy but it doesn't taste good you aren't going to eat it so might as well make it taste good.

A better TacoI

I love Tacos and decided to make a bit better version at home. I could have bumped up the nutrition and health a lot more by using greek yoghurt and low fat cheese but this is what I did.

1 Whole Wheat Tortilla Wrap

2 tomatoes diced
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
1 half a red onion finely chopped
1 lime juiced
1 bunch of chopped cilantro
a few drops of Tabasco hot sauce to taste
a pinch of salt you can also add some cumin for some smokey spice.

1 Mashed Avocado
1/2 lime juiced
pinch of salt
(you can add the salsa mixture to the guacamole if you prefer a chunky guacamole)

1 whole lettuce leaf - I used Iceberg for the crunchiness but you can use Romaine if you want more nutrition.

1 Chicken Breast no skin
Chipotle pepper spice

I took a skinless boneless piece of chicken and just dusted it with the salt, pepper and chipotle and sauteed it in a cast iron pan to enhance the smokiness. I cooked it whole to keep it juicy and also to cut the use of fat. I cooked it until cooked through and then let it rest for a few minutes and then sliced it on the bias to keep it tender and easy to use on the taco.

1 tbsp. Sour Cream or Greek Yoghurt.
1/4 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese.

These are all the elements and how you are ready to assemble.

1. Toast the Tortilla until it is just soft and warm. Place it on a plate larger than the tortilla.

2. Place the lettuce on to the tortilla and try and keep it in one piece. This will prevent the tortilla from falling apart and the lettuce will be flavoured by the juices of the salsa.

3. Add the sliced chicken in a think layer on half of the tortilla or in the middle.

4. Add a spoonful of the salsa on top of the chicken.

5. Add a scoop of guacamole on top of the salsa

6. Add a spoonful of the grated cheese on top of the guacamole

7. Add a spoonful of the sour cream or yoghurt on top of it all.

Make sure you spread it all out evenly and then just fold the Tortilla in half and you have a Soft Taco. Less Fat than the usual ground beef version and it has a fresh and healthy taste.

This is great for lunch or dinner.
You could even wrap up the elements seperately and take it to work and just assembly it before you are ready to eat.

You can adjust it the way you like it and omit anything or add more of what you do like.
You can do the same thing with sliced beef or pork.

Make it your own but make it at home and skip the drive through.

I used to have friends that I would get together with for dinner and we had mexican food all the time. We would have taco nights. They moved out of town but it's nice to have a taco night once in a while.

Taco Thursday anyone?

From Seed to Table

I went to a Workshop Event called SEEDY SATURDAY last weekend. It sounds like something I wouldn't want to admit to but it was a full day of learning about planting seeds for your garden to have sustainable gardens and flowers.

The first workshop had us plant some herb and vegetable seeds. The photo above is leek seeds that were planted in an old Tim Horton's cup. Talk about sustainable. Have your coffee and then use it to plant seeds.

I don't know if I will be able to grow this leek but I will attempt to have it sprout and then I could give it to my Eco Loser family to plant in their garden. Since I live in an apartment with North facing light I am limited in what I can plant on my balcony. I believe I am limited to having just herbs. That's fine with me since I don't have much of a green thumb.

I do like the idea of having fresh herbs available by just stepping onto my balcony. Normally I buy fresh herbs at the store in bigger bunches than I need or use and then storing them in the fridge only to go back in a week and throw most of it out. I am hoping that I get to use the potted fresh herbs and not waste any of it in the process.

The Eco Losers family will be planting a full fruit and vegetable garden so I hope I get some of the excess from them.

The one thing that I know is the best thing about planting your own fruits, vegetables and herbs is that you know exactly what has gone into producing them and you can make sure there are no pesticides on them.

When I lived in a house I tried to plant various things without much success because I never had time to maintain it and didn't really know much about where to plant and when to plant etc. I have mastered keeping my Peace tree alive so I will now attempt to plant herbs that I hope to keep alive for a change. The goal is to use them in some of my favourite recipes in the summer. If I succeed you will see the results on this blog in a few months.

I hope to reap what I sow very soon.