Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries, Feta and Green Grapes

Serves 4
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
½ cup green grapes, sliced in half
8 cups red leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
4 cups Russian Kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, honey into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add all other ingredients into a salad bowl and toss with dressing.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

7 Great Reasons To Reclaim The Family Dinner

Cooking and eating at home has never been easier.  All it takes is a little time, organization and a commitment to your kitchen.  Easy peasy, right?  The next time you’re tempted to eat out, stop and consider these seven great reasons to cook at home. 

1.   Nourish your family.  When you cook your own food you choose the best foods that will nourish yourself and your family.  It’s easy to eat poorly when you eat take-out.   Think of all the unhealthy temptations there are with take out and how easy it is to choose foods that are full of fat, sugar, and salt (think burger, fries and a milkshake).  When you cook at home you eliminate any temptations and eat only the good stuff. 

2.  Impress your partner.  Cooking at home can be a fantastic dating tactic.  Master a couple of simple, tasty and impressive dishes. Then, invite your partner or soon-to-be partner over for dinner, and the rest as they say, is history.   A good recipe to start with is the Risotto with Veggies from the Recipes To The Rescue Blog

3.  Cook better.  Cooking is a skill, just like tennis or learning how to play the piano.  The more you cook the better you get.  The key here is to try different recipes, different foods and different techniques that will help to move you out of your comfort zone.  This way you stretch yourself and, of course, perfect the skill of cooking. 

4.  Role Model.  If you’re a parent you’re role modeling for your children.  If they see you cooking every (or most) nights then this becomes the norm.  If you eat out regularly, then this will be the expectation.  Set your kids up for success in the kitchen.  Get them involved with the meal planning, shopping, cooking, clean up and they too will become home cooks.

5.  Be Together.  Cooking and eating brings people and families together.  Every special occasion centers around food.  It is a fantastic excuse to have friends over to talk and catch up on world or life events.  If pressed for time, consider asking everyone to pitch in to cook (and clean). This way it won’t be so daunting.

6.  Jumpstart Creative Juices - Once you master the basics with cooking then you can start engaging your creative self.  Experiment and try adding different herbs, spices, veggies or other ingredients.  You’ll be surprised at how great your cooking will be when you put a little of yourself into each recipe.

7.  Save Money.  Eating out regularly is hard on your pocket book. For example, let’s say four people eat out and it costs $18.00 each or $72.00 total. Think of all the meals you could create with $72.00 of groceries.  It would definitely serve more than 4, and probably 8 people with left-overs.  In the long run, there is no contest. Home cooked meals will be cheaper for you.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Risotto with Veggies

This recipe is great because you can add any vegetable you like. Check your crisper and throw in whatever looks good. 

Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
1 leek, tops removed, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 zucchini diced
12 asparagus stalks, ends removed and cut into 2“ pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
1 larger or two smaller tomatoes, diced
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock, heated thoroughly
1 ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a medium-sized sauce pan.  Add leeks and garlic and sauté two minutes. Add zucchini, asparagus, red bell pepper, carrot, jalapeno pepper and sauté until soft, about five more minutes.  Add rice and coat well.  Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil leaves and wine. Stir until the liquid has been completely absorbed.  Add one ladle of hot stock and simmer, stirring until it has been absorbed.  Continue to add hot stock one ladle at a time, stirring after each spoonful and adding more once it’s been absorbed.  Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm (al dente) about 18-20 minutes.  Add Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

This recipe was originally published in 2012

Monday, May 29, 2017

How Much Salt is Too Much Salt?

"Please pass the salt, " politely asks my dinner guest.  I sit attentively watching him shake and shake and shake the white crystals all around his plate.  I privately think, this must not be good for him!

Why is salt considered bad for us and yet is vital for us to survive?  It's considered harmful for us, and yet our tongue has a specific sensor receptive only to the taste of salt.  It's essential in kitchens all over the world, adding the finishing touches to many a successful dish.  It compliments many foods, I mean, french fries without salt? With so many positives, what's the big fuss about salt?

The fuss is that we consume too much salt.  The minimum salt needed for our bodily functions to operate efficiently is 1/4 teaspoon, and we should consume no more that 1 teaspoon a day.  However, the average person consumes between 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 teaspoons a day!

Surprised?  More surprising is that most of the salt we consume is not out of a salt shaker. It's hidden. Salt is in all the processed and store bought foods we buy.  Our cereal in the morning, our peanut butter on our toast, our processed meat in our sandwich, our bread, our cheese, our take-out foods and so on.  Many times we can't even taste the salt, hence the hidden aspect.

For most this is not a problem because our kidney's excrete the excess sodium that's in salt. For others however, (and you might not know it's you), the kidney's do not work as efficiently, and the bloodstream is forced to absorb extra water in order to dilute the excess sodium. This in turn increases the blood volume, forcing the heart to pump harder to move the extra blood. This increases pressure in the arteries, which can cause hardening of the arteries, leading to possible blockages, heart attacks and stokes.  This is potential detrimental, if you have high blood pressure. shake or not to shake, this is the question!  The answer is not so simple. If you eat lots of packaged, processed and premade foods and are a candidate for high blood pressure then you don't need to shake.  However, what's life if you can't shake?  What should you do if you eat a dish that needs salt?  I know what I'll do - I'll have one shake instead of three, and the next time my friend request the salt shaker, I'll pass the salt, look the other way and hope for the best.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shelf Life Of Nuts

Fun Food Fact: 

Did you know that nuts can go rancid.  Yep.  This is why it’s a good idea to sample nuts before adding them to a dish. If they’re bad, they can ruin the taste of your food.  Try to buy nuts in a store that has a high turnover.  If they are slightly past their prime,  lightly toast them in a small skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat.  Stir often until  they just turn brown, about 5 minutes.  Or you can roast them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 F until they just turn brown, about 10 minutes.  Nuts should be stored in an air tight container and will last up to 3 months. To prolong their shelf life they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months or in the freezer for up to 1 year.  

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rhubarb Sugar Cake

Rhubarb is plentiful these days, so time to gobble it up.  But don't eat their leaves or roots because they are poisnoned with oxalix acid which can lead to death if consumed.  Ouch!

Serves 9
1/2 cup soft butter
 1 cup brown sugar
 1/2 cup honey
 1 egg
 2 teaspoons vanilla
 1 teaspoon cinnamon
 2 cups flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 cup buttermilk
 4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4” slices
whipping cream (optional). 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch cake pan. 
In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar and honey. Add egg and beat until light in colour. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, flour, baking soda and salt. Alternate flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter mixture. Stir until all is combined. Fold in rhubarb. spoon into prepared pan and bake 1 hour or until tester comes out clean. Serve warm with cream (if using).

Monday, May 1, 2017

Salmon With Pineapple and Mango Salsa

1 1/2 pounds Salmon 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place fish in a baking dish and rub olive oil on top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake until fish flakes about 12- 15 minutes (timing depends on how thick your fish is, it’s usually 10 minutes per inch).  Serve with Salsa.

Pineapple and Mango Salsa

1 cup fresh pineapple, diced  small 
1 cup (about 2) mangos, peeled and diced  small 
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced  small 
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 tomato, diced small Pinch of red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients together.  Serve with fish.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Family Favourite Fruit Bars

This is a great snack to feed the kids.  It’s like a granola/fruit bar.  

3 cups dried fruit (such as apricots, cranberries, dates, or prunes)

1 cup dark raisins
1 cup chopped mixed nuts (such as almonds, pecans and walnuts)
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup sunflower seeds

Place dried fruit, including raisins, into a bowl.  Cover with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes.  Drain.  Place in a cuisinart and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Line a 10 x 12 inch baking sheet with parchment paper.  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Place into prepared pan and smooth out.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.   

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Are You Being Tricked By Food Marketing?

I often buy food products thinking I’ve made a wise and tasty choice.  The packaging grabs my attention and reels me in.  We’re all so programmed these days to eat healthy and food packaging always tell us how good-for-us their food is. 

I often believe it, because, well….because the package tells us so!  

However, I’ve learned that you can’t judge food by its packaging.  For instance, the other day I wanted to buy a fun snack.  We were having friends over and I didn’t have time to make anything.  I skimmed the snack aisle and I bought the package that appeared to be the best option.  It screamed healthy snack which convinced me to throw it into my shopping cart.  

It wasn’t until I got home and looked closely at what I’d bought that I noticed I’d been tricked, again!  The packaging was simple and the words appeared great.  But really, what was I buying?  I realized I was purchasing a promise from the words, not the food.  I thought I was buying a healthy chip, but what I really bought was: false promises, fake colours, advertising lies, artificial taste, crazy GMO’s.  Huh?  

My suspicions were alerted when I looked at the ingredients list and realized that maybe I hadn’t bought the healthiest snack.  Most of the listed ingredients were items I’d never use in my home cooking. I would’ve been better off buying and serving raw almonds.  At least we’d be eating real food, with some fibre and some good fat and I’d feel satiated.  

Here is how the two compare:

Toasted Bread Chips Sour Cream & Onion

Ingredients:  wheat flour, wheat starch yeast, vegetable oils (canola, olive) palm oil, cheese (gouda)(7%) red onion (3%), salt, glucose syrup, apple fibre, mixed herbs and spices, natural flavour, wheat gluten, modified milk ingredients, milk ingredients, dextrose, sugar, sour cream powder (whole milk, yoghurt starter), citric acid, lactic acid, calcium lactate, yeast extract, lactose, soy lecithin. 

15 pieces - 110 calories

Natural Raw Almonds

Ingredients:  Almonds.

1/4 cup - 145 calories

The snack was actually bread slices disguised as potato chips but trying not to be potato chips. Really?  My honest impression is that they were a bad impersonator. Next time I’ll say NO to the alternative snack and pay attention to what I’m buying so I don’t get fooled into buying just words again.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Pasta With Garlic, Tuna And Capers

This meal is super fast and creates little mess!  It's sure to impress your partner.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

450 grams dry linguine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (170g) can chunk light tuna, drained
2 tablespoons capers, drained  
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a big pot of salted water to a rapid boil.  Cook pasta until al dente (as suggested on the packaging).  While linguine is cooking, heat a large skillet over high heat and lightly toast pine nuts.  Remove nuts.  In the same skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté to release the aroma.  Add tuna and capers and sauté until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add in the tuna mixture and pine nuts, season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh Parmesan cheese.