Mornings can be rough. The nights are short, the kids are off from school, and frankly, it’s too nice outside to even think about spending your day in the office. If you’re like me, you’ll need that cup of coffee before you say your first word. Why not try something new in your daily brewing routine and try these five different ways to spruce up your coffee. You’ll thank us later.
Stir in some black sesame powder:
Black sesame seeds are highly nutritious, packed with vitamin B1, fibre, magnesium and calcium (just to name a few). Add in a teaspoon to give your coffee a rich, nutty flavour. This tastes especially good with coconut or almond milk.
Sprinkle on some spices:
You don’t need a trip to Starbucks for that gourmet kick in your cup of joe. Add in some ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cardamom directly into your cup before you pour in your coffee for a refreshing spice kick. Alternatively, you could sprinkle on the spices after you have poured your coffee for a lighter taste. These spices are a great alternative to sugar!
Try using a different type of milk:
Swapping out your usual milk and creamer can add a new unique taste to the coffee. Try using variations such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk or cashew milk. You can even pick between sweetened or unsweetened.
Blend in some coconut oil:
Yes, that’s right, coconut oil. Similar to the “bulletproof coffee,” this interesting add-in brings creaminess to the drink and can keep you full all morning. Make sure you blend in the coconut oil so that is incorporated properly with the coffee! This also makes it frothier – almost like a latté mmm!
Try sweetening with maple syrup or pure vanilla extract:
Maple syrup contains 54 antioxidants and makes a healthy, low-calorie swap for your regular sugar. Alternatively, you could add vanilla extract; just a few drops will do to add some sweet vanilla flavour. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try using almond extract.
How do you spruce up your coffee? Let us know in the comments below!
Fruits and vegetables are vital for your diet, and most people enjoy them in some form or fashion. Peppers and cucumbers, for example, are family favourites in a salad or a stirfry. But, what about the less popular vegetables such as radishes or rutabaga that aren’t so well-loved at the dinner table? These vegetables still have nutritional value and can be cooked to be delectable so that picky eaters will still enjoy them. Read below to find out how.
Radishes are a root vegetable that is often eaten raw. The radish is crunchy, with sharp flavour. If eaten in certain salads, the radish can actually be quite delicious, so don’t write off the strong taste quite yet! Radishes can be sliced or diced, and are full of vitamin C. The vegetable also has fibre, riboflavin and potassium. Radishes pair well with strong cheeses and are also yummy when doused in pepper and salt, with olive oil to balance the sharp taste.
Brussel sprouts are another commonly unpopular vegetable, but are delicious when cooked in oil and spices until they are tender. Brussel sprouts have vitamin C and K, with folic acid and a lot of fibre as well. If you slice the center of the Brussel sprout prior to cooking, it will help tenderize the sprout. DO NOT overcook Brussel sprouts or the buds will become grey and soft, releasing an organic and smelly compound that contains sulfur. Cook with Dijon mustard to brighten the taste of the sprouts and add maple syrup for a sweet kick. Brussel sprouts also pair well with pinto beans in a burrito to add extra fibre to the wrap.
People often turn their noses up at turnips, but they are another food that is full of nutrition. Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, folate and calcium are just a few of the healthy components in the vegetable. Interestingly, turnips contain cyanoglucosides that release small and non-lethal amounts of cyanide. Sensitivity to the cyanglucosides is controlled by an gene in each individual person, and some people have two sets of the gene. This makes turnips taste twice as bitter for some and delicious for others. If you are one of the lucky few, mash them and douse the mixture with olive oil, and chives for yummy dish.
Rutabaga, also known as a Swedish turnip is a hybrid root vegetable that is a cross between cabbage and a turnip. Similarly to other root vegetables, the rutabaga is full of vitamins and fibre. It also acts as an antioxidant if you have a cold. Rutabaga can be roasted, baked, boiled and used in a soup. Rutabaga julienned and sautéed in a red wine vinegar makes a delicious side dish that will have your taste buds flying. Mashing the rutabaga and mixing it with pepper and olive oil is also an option.
Beets are often overlooked in meal planning, but they can be cooked in a variety of ways that can hide the texture that most find unpleasant. Beets have zero cholesterol and very little fat content. Betaine in the vegetable lowers the chance of heart disease, and stroke, along with essential folate. Beets can be used in salads as a grated vegetable, and even in cupcakes, which adds a natural sweetness.
By preparing and cooking the root vegetables listed in a new and fresh way, you get a delicious new meal. The plus side: these veggies are often cheaper as well because they aren’t in as high of demand, so it is a way to save on groceries.
How do you like to cook any of the vegetables listed above? Let us know in the comments below.
Planting fruits and veggies is a great way to spend time outside soaking up the sunshine — not to mention the delicious produce you’ll get out of it. Garden lovers know that Ontario has certain fruits and veggies that thrive in the region and many of them have to be planted, well, about now.
Gardening may seem time consuming but it teaches the value of patience and generates a newfound understanding of the hard work that goes into growing your own food. It is an initial investment but once you are in the swing of things, it is easy pea-sy!
First off, it is essential to determine when the last frost date is in your area so that you don’t accidentally kill your plants prior to their growth. The general date for Ontario is May 15th,, but last frost can range anywhere from May 15 to May 21. The farmer’s almanac, or otherwise known as the gardening bible, has a handy online tool to help out with the timing of seed planting. You can plug in your specific city, and it will lay out the specific plant times for various vegetables and fruits according to the weather that year.
Making a gardening plan or chart helps to plan out a planting schedule, so that you can ensure your plants are compatible. Tomatoes, for example, should not be planted beside potatoes because the soil quality weakens the sensitive tomato plants. Leafy greens are often compatible with most plants. In your plans, also remember to assess which plants need sunnier spots as opposed to more shade. Leafy greens can thrive in the shade, which allows you to plant vegetables like peppers, peas and carrots in the sun.
Let’s begin with leafy greens, which can be planted the earliest due to their hardiness in the colder Canadian climate. Lettuce, spinach, kale and cabbage can be planted in mid-march and harvested as soon as the beginning of June. If you get a head-start (no pun intended) on your these vegetables, you could be enjoying a homegrown salad just as summer arrives. Chard is also a great choice for a hardy leafy green. It will survive until hard frost and is more resilient than spinach. It’s important to remember that the soil temperature must be at least five degrees for the leafy greens to thrive. This can be easily determined by purchasing a thermometer and ticking it into the soil prior to planting.
Peas, onions and potatoes can be planted once the soil reaches an internal temperature of 10 degrees. These veggies can be planted in mid-may and will yield successful crops. Excluding potatoes, the rest of the veggies also grow quickly and can be harvested as early as July. Potatoes can be harvested in late August and are often used in yummy fall harvest soups. Potatoes are very resilient and can grow in a variety of climates, which makes it a safe bet for any type of garden.
More sensitive vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as most fruits, should be planted later in the season to ensure they obtain enough sunlight. Plant strawberries and tomatoes indoors first and transfer them outside in mid-June. Once you get them outside, make sure to tie them near a sturdy structure. Tomatoes are a vine-stalk vegetable and need to be propped up to thrive well in the garden. Though tomatoes are finicky, they grow very well in Ontario. The soil must be minimum 20 degrees for tomatoes.
If you want to try something a little more adventurous, try planting watermelon in late June. Be sure to have enough room for watermelon because it is a sprawling plant.
With fruits, insects may become an issue and natural pesticides can help keep bugs out of your garden. Vegetable or canola oil and garlic are natural repellants that can be mixed with water and applied. If cared for, strawberries can yield fruit for the whole summer and blackberries will provide a yummy supply of treats come fall.
Get that green thumb out and try your hand Get outside and try your green thumb out for a great outdoor experience this summer season. Whether you stick with just growing easy-going leafy greens or attempt the more specialized fruits and veggies, the outcome will be delicious. Trust me, there is nothing better than eating and sharing fruits and vegetables you grew yourself.
What’s your favourite fruits and veggies to grow? Let us know and post in the comments below!
I love eggs. I don’t know why, but when I’m tired and just don’t want to cook, I go for eggs. But sometimes, a plain omelette isn’t enough to satisfy the craving. That’s when quiche is perfect. Feel free to play with the recipe below — add in a few extra vegetables or some fancy cheeses. Do you have company coming over? Make your quiche a little fancier with some spinach and brie.
Here’s a basic quiche recipe to get you started:
12 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
½ c. chopped onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
5 egg whites
1 c. heavy cream (can substitute half & half or milk)
2 Tbsp. flour
1 c. Swiss cheese
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. minced fresh chives
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and cook until tender; add cooked, crumbled bacon and heat through.
In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, cream, and flour and mix well.
Stir in salt, pepper, and cheese.
Add onion and bacon from skillet and stir to combine.
Pour into a greased 10 inch pie plate or similar sized baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 45 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.
Remove from oven; garnish with fresh minced chives.
*Quiche can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Your Sunday Easter dinner turned out perfectly — the scalloped potatoes were cheesy and creamy, the vegetables were crisp, and the ham was cooked to utter perfection. But, your guests didn’t eat as much as you expected. Instead of having enough leftover ham for a day or so as planned, you have enough for a few weeks! What to do?
If you’re like me, you can only eat ham and potatoes for so many days before starting to feel sick. Here are five alternatives for those who don’t want to waste all of those fantastic leftovers:
Eggs: Nothing goes better with ham than some good old eggs and cheese. Put some of the ham in an omelette or make little hashbrown nests with some shredded potatoes. After spraying some muffin tins, line it with the potato, crack an egg, and top with diced ham, cheese, and some spinach if you’re feeling healthy. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes at a temperature of 350 degrees.
Casserole: What’s the easiest way to use leftovers? Throw them all in a casserole dish and let it warm up in the oven. Personally, I like to combine some cooked pasta, peas, corn, onions, ham, and cheese with some mushroom sauce. If you want some more vegetables, feel free to add some carrots or broccoli. This is comfort food at its best.
Soup: One of my favourite meals on a rainy day is split-pea soup, with yellow peas, onions, ham, and bacon. Put all of these ingredients into a pot with vegetable stock, pepper, and garlic, and let simmer for a few hours. I like to puree the soup slightly so that it’s not as thick.
Stirfry: Most of the time I use chicken or beef in my stirfry, but it’s easy to substitute that with ham. Put some cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, and pineapple in a skillet with your leftover ham. Cook in some water until the vegetables are mostly cooked and then add some soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, and sesame seeds. Serve on top of rice.
Pizza: Pineapple, ham, and cheese (extra cheese!). Those are my absolute favourite things to put on a pizza. If you want to make this at home, try it on some large flatbread or on a tortilla wrap. If you aren’t a pineapple fan, try substituting some tomatoes or green peppers. Top with olives, chilli flakes, and onions. Enjoy!
What do you plan to do with your Easter leftovers? Let us know in the comments
In the quest to eat healthier foods, “read the nutrition label” has become a new mantra. It is possible to get all the information you need to make an informed buying decision, the key is getting past the marketing buzz and down to the facts found in the listing of ingredients.
Trans fat free
Trans fat freedoesn’t necessarily mean that there are no trans fats in the product. If the product contains “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils, then there are trans fats. The amount can be determined by looking at the total fat content on the Nutrition Facts Label and subtracting the saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are indicated. If the numbers don’t add up to the total fat, the difference is the amount of trans fats in the food.
By Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) standards, a natural food or ingredient has nothing added to or removed from it except water. Some minimal processing such as grating, milling or blending is acceptable so the food can still be labelled as natural—for example, whole grain rolled oats.
Natural ingredientsmay include substances such as flavour components derived from natural foods, but if anything has been added to the substance, e.g. preservatives, then it can no longer be identified as a natural ingredient. Of note, those substances added to a flavour preparation do not have to be included as an ingredient on the product label.
Organiccan apply to single ingredient foods such as apples or multi-ingredient foods if 95% or more of the ingredients are certified organic. The logo on the side of the page affirms that the product has met the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime.
If less than 95% of a product’s ingredients are organic, the whole product cannot be labelled as organic and it cannot bear the logo.
Whole grains are promoted far and wide and are a step up from refined ingredients in products such as cereals and crackers. It’s important to closely read the ingredients, as often you will find signs that the product is not as healthy as the manufacturer wants consumers to believe. Crackers will often include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats). Cereals may contain several different types of sugar (e.g. sugar, corn syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, dextrose, etc.). Ingredients are listed in order of their weight, the heaviest shown first. Look past the first ingredient to see what else is in the product and, as a general rule of thumb, put it back on the shelf if there are unnatural or more than five ingredients.
There is so much that can be said about food packaging and labels, the above is just the tip of the iceberg. I will tell you more in future articles, but I hope that this gives you something to chew on in the meantime.
It is summer time, which brings barbecue season. I always look forward to cooking hamburgers on the Barbie, but now that I live in an apartment the chances of doing any backyard barbecuing is gone, except when I am invited to a friend’s backyard barbecue. I do miss the smell of hamburgers cooking and the aroma lingering right to the front door. Often, the smell of the delicious food would be just after a run. I could hardly wait to finish stretching so I could enjoy a hamburger, garnished with ketchup, onions and cheese. That would hit the spot after a hard workout.
Living in an apartment there is no barbecuing allowed. The next best option is to take my culinary skills to the kitchen and make my hamburgers perhaps not barbecue style, but certainly decadent. I call it the kitchen style barbecuing.
After a run last week, I decided to make hamburgers kitchen style. Like with all meats, I am careful in how I handle the meat.
Here is some information from Be Food Safe:
Use a food thermometer – you can’t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, WASH them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
Here is how I make my hamburgers (patties are ready made):
160°F (71°C) Make sure the hamburgers are cooked at this temperature.
I use extra lean Canadian ground beef.
I put a bit of water in a skillet and a pinch of extra virgin olive oil.
I add the burgers, and I cook on low temperature. I let the meat slowly cook until ready to turn over.
I add mushrooms and onions.
When I see the hamburgers cooking fairly well, I turn the patties over again.
I cook the hamburgers until there is no pink in the meat and the mushrooms and onions are well done.
I put cheese on top of the burger until it melts.
I keep the burgers cooking on minimum.
I butter the buns with mayonnaise and cook in the toaster oven.
I place the burger on the bun and add whatever condiments.
The taste is delicious, and the burgers are basically cooked in water with a bit of oil. A healthy choice for me. My partner loves my burgers and I am ready to have my friends taste it.
As an avid runner, I watch my diet and I also make sure to include red meat because of my iron levels. Here is some information I received from Canadian Beef.
How could there be a football game on TV without chicken wings? Or a poker night for the guys? Or any impromptu party for either guys or girls?
This year, however, this culinary treat was severely threatened for the Super Bowl, possibly the ultimate wing event of the year.
According to WSB-TV, “Two storage workers in Georgia are accused of stealing $65,000 worth of frozen chicken wings amid a high nationwide demand for the delicious Super Bowl snack. Dewayne Patterson, 35, and Renaldo Jackson, 26, allegedly used a rental truck on Jan. 12 to steal 10 warehouse pallets of frozen wings from Nordic Cold Storage.”
Ten pallets? I have no idea how many wings a pallet holds, but 10 pallets certainly seems to be a plethora of wings to me.
Don’t you have to wonder just how these two stored those 10 pallets to keep them frozen and in top black market condition? I think this may have been more wings than would fit into my little kitchen freezer. Did they borrow freezers from their pals? Maybe they rented freezers the way you can rent tables and chairs for a banquet. I just think that 10 pallets of wings would be a hefty amount to secretly store and I’m not sure that DeWayne and Renaldo would have been up to the task.
And there’s another question here. Wings come, of course, coated with various sauces: zesty, hot, super-hot, blow-your-head-off hot. Were the stolen wings pre-coated in their pallets of storage boxes? That just seems unlikely to me. So did these two bright bulb thieves also steal the sauces? How did they decide which strength of sauce would be the most popular for their…clients? Do purchasers of stolen wings even have a preference or are they just delighted to have a huge stash of these chicken delights?
How much would you pay for a box of heisted wings? Or a pallet of them, for that matter? Would you buy wings out of the trunk of someone’s car parked at the side of the road advertising “Wings – Cheap”?
Maybe I need to stop laughing at this ridiculous heist, because the brazen theft took place on January 12 and the date of the news article is January 28, so there was some wiggle time there for the sticky-fingered thieves to dispose of their wings in the most profitable manner before this year’s Super Bowl Sunday.
These two innovative thieves did the nasty deed in broad daylight with little concern of being caught – so caught they were. They were later released on $2,950 bond.
The wings, however, were never found. Pass the napkins please.
Do you find yourself running out of energy at different points during the day? Do you end up reaching for coffee or something with a bit of sugar in it to keep you going?
While there may be a burst of energy from the caffeine or sugar, there is often a big dip that follows, and then the cycle repeats itself. Then perhaps you find yourself amongst the sleepy passengers on the TTC or GO Train on the way home: too tired to cook a complete meal when you get there.
What is happening in the body through these energy bursts and dips is actually a blood sugar and insulin roller coaster that can be avoided by eating certain foods in particular combinations. The result is more sustained energy, better mental focus and appetite control. Getting more stability in the body’s blood sugar response is often one of the first things that I work on with my nutritional counseling clients, and it usually does not take long to see improvement.
So what’s the trick? Try these tips:
1. Avoid refined flours, sugars and white rice as they are too quickly metabolized in the body.
2. Avoid or at least minimize coffee as it contributes to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar.
3. Start your day with a good source of protein (e.g. plain Greek yogurt, eggs, lean meat) along with some complex carbohydrates (whole fruit or vegetables, whole grains) that provide energy and fibre – those morning pastries will spike your blood sugar and set you up for a day of swings.
4. Have five to six small meals (that includes snacks) throughout the day so that your blood sugar does not have a chance to crash before your next meal; include healthy protein, a good fat and complex carbohydrate. A couple of good snack examples are an apple with a handful of raw almonds, or vegetables with hummus or guacamole.
5. If your energy lags mid-afternoon, rather than taking a break for coffee or cookies, use that time to take a short walk, even if it’s just down the hall and back – physical activity promotes energy.
6. If you find yourself so hungry when you get home that you end up over-grazing before dinner, try eating an apple or some vegetables before you leave work to reduce your hunger later.
The key to making this work is to plan ahead so that you are never caught unprepared and needing to grab something quickly, as that’s when less healthy decisions are made. Every weekend, try to stock up on the next week’s worth of healthy ingredients and put together your snack packs for the office so that they are handy. Before long you’ll be unstoppable.
A raw diet can have transformation effects: weight loss, heightened senses, change in appetite, and glowing skin and hair, to name a few. While all this sounds desirable enough, raw food can be off putting. Many people assume its preparation is time consuming, complicated, and expensive. But even if you’re a grab-an-apple as you gracefully run out the door kind of snacker, you can still reap the benefits of many enzyme packed, cancer fighting foods. All you need is a passion for health and some ingenuity.
As a first-time raw food participant, I was skeptical. I have two jobs to focus on, a budget to stay on track with, and a social life I’d like to maintain. In other words, I can’t spend hours in my tiny kitchen concocting raw creations. Thus, I was happy to discover that embarking on a raw food cleanse would not compromise my schedule, my kitchen, or my wallet.
After a bit of research and a few trips to some different health food stores, I learned that eating raw is one of the easiest ways to improve your health. Toronto has options aplenty. Our growing selection of city-made brands make raw snacking easy, delicious, and affordable. There are also numerous helpful resources for the bolder raw enthusiast who wants to try their hand at making their own raw goods. This is a task that varies in degrees of difficulty. Whipping up a fruit smoothie or salad, for example, doesn’t require advanced tools or a great deal of skill.
For this reason, I spend the first few days of my raw cleanse whipping up some dark leafy bowls with soaked nuts, legumes and unrefined oils. I supplement this with some snacks made by the pros (granola bars, crackers, and dips) from my neighbourhood health food store. Rich and sweet, each bite of these grab-and-go treats packs a flavour punch owing to a dried fruit and nut content.
After only three days of eating raw, I feel lighter, somehow brighter, and quicker on my feet. Here’s why: raw food contains live enzymes which literally makes it digests itself inside the stomach, giving the body an extra opportunity to work on other processes like repairing cells, absorbing nutrients, and cleansing toxins. All of this is adds up to an immune system of steel. In general, the less often your digestive tract has to slug through heavily processed foods and the more energy it gets to devote to immune building processes, the better.
Kudos to any daring soul willing to tackle a total raw cleanse, because by day five, my desire for anything with a doughy texture starts to outweigh my newfound physical appreciation. There are some pretty convincing bread substitutes as well as creamy, cashew based dips, but the texture of a baked good is tricky to replicate. I last a week of raw and pat myself on the back.
I really notice a difference in the way I feel when I start eating processed foods again – headachy and sluggish. Every small bite has an effect on the body’s pH level. Consuming raw food helps keep that pH level on the alkaline side of things, (as opposed to acidic, which is found in processed and fatty foods). These levels have an enormous impact on our health, ranging from the way our bodies feel when we wake up in the morning to our ability to fight off disease in the long term. All science aside, through the act of preparing food every day and being sure that my body is the only system processing it definitely made my week a little more mindful. To me, that deeper connection is the best part of eating raw.