Friday, April 16, 2010

Kitchen sink bean soup

What a day!  I have not stopped and it's now 8 days until we fly to Edmonton but only 6 days until the house gets packed up.   I'm stressing and all over the place with packing, throwing out, donating, selling and still trying to feed everyone.    Now I'm just making stuff up to cook with whatever happens to be left and unfortunately there is a lot of food left!     I had a huge container from Costco of 9 bean mix so I'm making some thick soup and adding every spice or condiment I have left however bizarre they may seem.

 This time I have no recipe since I literally just tossed things in but the list goes like this,
2 large onions
dried garlic flakes
beans that I soaked for 3 hrs
1 1/2 boxs of chicken stock
3/4 of a large bottle of spicy clamato juice
1 ziploc bag of my last sun dried tomatoes
1 small ziploc bag of my last frozen pesto
dried oregano
chili powder
chipolte powder
2 cinnamon sticks
lots of cumin
salt n pepper

After letting this simmer for about 3 hrs I added tiny buffalo meatballs which were also well seasoned.

I served it with some sun dried tomato tortillas which I cut into strips and toasted.     A dollop of greek yogurt and some cheddar cheese.

The girl are having a sleepover going away party here  tomorrow night so I figured it was also a good way to finish off some baking ingredients.    I had 2 huge 72% dark chocolate baking bars in the pantry along with a jar of chocolate peanut butter (which strange enough wasn't a hit with anyone) so I made some cookies.      These are by no means even a bit healthy but with 8 little teenagers here all night, I think they will be appreciated.       Again I literally started throwing whatever I could get rid of into my kitchenaid and came up with a pretty good little cookie - super rich and I have a feeling there will be a LOT of milk consumed tomorrow night because these are pure little chocolate bombs!   The girls had a couple for dessert tonight and they a hit.......huge sigh of relief.    

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Breakfast mash

A busy Tuesday already and I'm trying to get to the gym for the first time in weeks, hopefully it won't be too painful getting back into it.  For breakfast this morning I had fresh strawberries and blackberries from weekend shopping so I made my favorite breakfast mash.
This is like a big bowl of dessert.  I had leftover steel cut oats in the fridge which I mix with cinnamon, psyllium and stevia.   Along with a scoop of homemade greek yogurt, berries, prunes, almonds and pomegranate seeds.
In September when the pomegranates were in season and on sale I probably bought  25 of them and after deseeding them I  just froze in freezer bags.  Now I simply let a bit at a time defrost and leave in the fruit bin.   These last me all winter.
I love love dried prunes and pretty much any dried fruit for the matter but these are like candy, I keep them in the fridge as they stay fresh forever that way.
The blackberries were on sale this week so I've been eating piles of them.

I had a great workout today and ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill which is good considering it's been over 3 wks since my last run.  My knee has been bothering me so hopefully the break will help.  I was starving when I got home and felt like eating something instead of a shake.  I guess I would call this one an egg white mash, different than breakfast but sort of the same idea.  I can't help it, I could eat these combinations for every meal and snack!

I just cook the egg whites in in the same bowl in the microwave.  Don't forget to spray with pam because the eggs will cook right on the bowl - not fun to clean up.
In the same bowl I added 1/4 cup cottage cheese.

I added 1/4 cup of left over steel cut oats
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin along with some splenda and  pumpkin spice that is just a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves.   This makes the whole mash taste like pumkin pie and seriously I could eat anything with pumpkin in it.    
Voila! egg white mash with more strawberries and a some walnuts.  This was yummy and high in protein for after my workout.

In cleaning out my kitchen drawers to pack I found these skewers that I bought probably more than a year ago.   Apparently they infuse flavor into the food so tonight I'm giving them a try with chicken.  I doubt that the flavors will be intense so I also made a marinade this morning for the chicken.   I do have to mention though that these skewers smell AMAZING!!!     They smell just like a huge Thai soup with cilantro, lime, fish sauce, lemon grass and anything else Thai.  
This is a marinade I made out of prunes which may sound bizarre but they add a nice sweetness as well as a thickening agent.  Place the following into a blender or magic bullet.
3 large chicken breasts cubed
10 prunes
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 of a a medium onion
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt and pepper
Pour this mixture over your cubed chicken and marinade 4-6 hours
Finally, skewer your chicken and bake or grill.    I microwaved the leftover marinade for 5 min and the boy loved it to dip his chicken in it.

 I would love to bbq it but mine is packed for the move so I baked it at 400 until mostly cooked through an then put the broiler on to get a bit carmelized.
Next in my recent quest not to waist and empty the panty, I made a tabouli with the rest of my bulgar and finished off lemons that were soon ready for the lemon grave yard.   This was a medium bulgar so I just boiled it until tender and then drained.
Chop up your veggies finely while bulgar is simmering and add to a large bowl
I added 1/2 a chopped white onion to this only because I had no red onion.
Next add your cooked and cooled bulgar and add the chopped baby spinach last (I know bulgar calls for parsley but I had spinach on hand and's healthier.    Now for the dressing.....
Using one of my favorite tools in the kitchen, I add the rind of 2 lemons to a bowl
Get the juice of 2 lemons as well.   My lemons were done so I had Josee juice them all and save the juice
For the dressing, add the juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp avocado oil (any oil will do)
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp each salt and pepper
Blend well and add to cooled bulgar and veggies
This was a very tart dressing which I prefer but maybe use 1 1/2 lemons and keep tasting until it's perfect for you.

Avery pretty tabouli I think!   Like most salads using grains this salad will soak up all the flavors and taste even better tomorrow and the the day after and the day after that and......
So a long blog today.....dinner served with prune marinade on lime skewers and spinach tabouli.  Just a note.....the skewers really did add a great flavor to the chicken and I would definitely buy them again.  Tomorrow is a busy day and I have a TON of leftovers in the fridge so have a fab Wednesday!

Turkey burgers

It was a beautiful Monday today and I managed to walk Daisy for 40 minutes and  to pack 2 whole boxes for Edmonton.  I know it doesn't sound like much but I've been stressed about where to start, now I've started and I don't think it will be so bad.  As long as I get my shoes and my kitchenaid all should be fine  :)       I'm doing my weekly roasted veggie cooking tonight along with feta turkey burgers and a twice baked sweet potato for dinner.    I made 2 separate burgers for the girls with just feta.
The boy and I will have the 'good' ones!
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
3 tbsp finely diced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1 handful of baby spinach chopped finely
As much feta as you like and I used lots

I've got this huge tub of feta to finish in 2 weeks.  Hmmm...maybe a feta, tomato and oregano frittata tomorrow.
After baking a sweet potato I squash it with a small plate and add a bit of olive oil and sea salt, bake again at 400 until crispy. A dollop of greek yogurt and this is the best sweet potato you've ever tasted!
I can and usually do eat brussel sprouts every day so just like my super size salad I make a huge batch to have on hand all week.    Not just any brussel sprouts though, roasted sprouts are by far the best.  I simply cut them in half, spray with some pam and sprinkle with lemon pepper.

I love the tart flavor of lemon pepper with roasted veggies.

Place pan right in the middle of your oven and put the setting on roast.  Be sure to watch them because they cook fast and will blacken quickly if your not careful.  I just spend $13.50 for these babies today so I think I would cry if I forgot them - and I have before.
I roast them just until carmelized and still firm since they will go in the microwave for heating up during the week.    
I also did a pile of roasted broccoli.  A spray of pam again with some hot chili powder (or mild), some sea salt and pepper and fresh lemon juice.
You have to be even more carful with the brocolli because as you can see it cooks super fast!  These were on the verge but I love them this way and I could eat the whole bunch at one sitting.   Now I have my veggies for the week.  Next week I hope the peppers look better at the market because I usually roast them in strips and add as well.
This was tonight's dinner with roasted asparagus leftover from last night.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Super size salad

For years I've been trying to get the boy to eat salad. Salad is hands down my favorite meal to order out and the healthiest one I can think of. I'm not talking about iceberg lettuce and grated carrots with thousand Island dressing kinda salad here, I'm talking about huge meal size salads with 5-6 different crunchy veggies, nuts, dried fruit, grilled protein and homemade dressings kinda salads. Since I'm the cook in the family, he pretty much has to eat what I serve him and truth be told he rarely complains so I started serving him a small bowl each night with a balsamic vinegar that I make in the magic bullet. Really it was the balsamic dressing that he started commenting on and eventually his before dinner salads became the favorite part of his meals and now he actually complains if there is no salad. Although I love being in the kitchen and preparing my family their meals, I can honestly say that making a salad every night was mostly a chore and became a pain in the butt so I decided to make a huge one on a Sunday afternoon and see how long it would last. It lasted all week and on top of that I found some green vegetable bags at Walmart that contain important gases to make the veggies last longer. They really work and the salad stays crunchy and fresh for about 6 days. I add any of the following depending on what's fresh that week and on sale.
Romaine lettuce (I always use dark green salad)
kale,collards or mustard greens (these are great fresh but slice into ribbon size pieces)
bag of prepared coleslaw
snap peas
green onion (scallions)
any color peppers
and so on

I take a huge bowl and after washing and spinning all lettuces, I add that first and then proceed to clean and chop everything else.

Once done I use my hands to toss the salad before placing into the green salad bags.

For the dressing it's always different and depends what I have in the house. Steve likes good red balsamic but this week in my emptying of the pantry I only had white balsamic and lemons. I use the magic bullet (essential kitchen gadget) and fill it with
1/3 balsamic
the juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp pepper
5 stalks fresh rosemary
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup homemade jalapeno jelly (anything sweet here including 2 tbsp splenda)

Blend until creamy and keep in mind that this is a very tart dressing so you may want to play with the flavors to suit your taste

Friday, April 9, 2010

The power of fiber

Right now I'm helping a few friends get their diets in check. They log their daily food intake into a food journal everyday online and I send them tips and suggestions for ways to lose weight or to simply feel healthier. Every time I do this the first thing I notice is how low their fiber intake is and how unaware they are of it. I am surprised and somewhat horrified each time someone tells me that they go to the bathroom once every 2 or 3 days! Not that clients bowel movements are any of my business but I feel inclined to ask when I see their first days fiber at 10g. The food guide recommends that women get around 25g and men 30g per day. I personally like to go higher than this and will often recommend 40 - 50g a day with a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber. Why do people find it so difficult to find find enough fiber in their diets? Mostly it's due to lack of veggies, fruits and whole grains but since these are generally the foods that I am attempting to introduce into their diets in the first place I can't expect them to get the fiber up until these issues are corrected and so I recommend fiber alternatives. Psyllium is my favorite, it's the husk of the seed of the plantain, it's a soluble fiber and and has no flavor so it's easily hidden in smoothies, yogurt, oats etc.. Depending on one's weight, 1 to 3 tbsp added daily will really up fiber content. A warning about psyllium though is that if added to plain liquid it gels very quickly and becomes almost glue like - not good.

Benefiber powder is another tasteless soluble fiber that is an easy natural supplement and unlike psyllium, you can add it into a glass of milk or juice.

A yummy way to get more fiber is by eating Bowel buddies, not only do they have the best name ever for fiber cookies but they are great for grabbing as a quick snack because they come individually wrapped with 2 cookies inside. 2 cookies are 10g of fiber alone which is great but the calorie count is a bit high at 200 which just means that you have to be careful and make sure they fit into your day. I like having 1 with coffee in the morning and the other with a cup of tea in the afternoon.
Using these fiber additions along with lots of veggies, fruit and whole grains is simple, natural and should keep you regular which is very important for many reasons ......

  • Heart disease. Evidence is now growing to support the notion that foods containing soluble fiber can have a positive influence on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other particles in the blood that affect the development of heart disease. Some fruits and vegetables (such as citrus fruits and carrots) have been shown to have the same effect. Soluble fiber is made up of polysaccharides (carbohydrates that contain three or more molecules of simple carbohydrates), and it does dissolve in water. (such as oats, rye barley, and beans)
  • Cancer. The consumption of fiber speeds up the passage of food through the body. Some experts believe this may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer. Other types of cancer that may be prevented by a fiber-rich diet include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.
  • Diabetes. Adding fiber to the diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes. In addition, some people with diabetes can achieve a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and may find they can reduce their medication or do without it altogether.
  • Diverticular disease is a range of conditions that develop from the presence of one of more small pouches that protrude out of the normally smooth wall of the colon; these pouches can become inflamed and cause symptoms that include abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, and bleeding from the rectum.. Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon. In a small percentage of people, these diverticula become inflamed or infected, a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticular disease can cause pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other problems. Generally, this condition is caused from being in a continuous state of constipation, so the way to prevent it is to move the food through the system efficiently.
  • Gallstones and kidney stones. Rapid digestion leads to a rapid release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. To cope with this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to develop gallstones and kidney stones (in addition to diabetes and high cholesterol). Additional fiber in the diet will slow digestion and lessen the effects of insulin.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A movie rant

Again since Steve is gone for 2 weeks the girls and I look for something to do on the weekends and like most people the first thing we come up with usually is a movie. We all decided to make a night of it on Thursday since they had no school the next day and I let them pick as long as Miley Cirus wasn't involved. Cut out Miley and anything restricted and The Hot tub time machine was all that was left. I had no idea what the movie was about and mostly pay no attention to the latest films so I told them to just make sure it was age appropriate. They checked and assured me that it was rated 13+ so off we went. About 10 min into the movie I was sinking deeper and deeper into my seat with the realization that I was a bad mother and I let my kids watch inappropriate movies. First of all ....I consider myself a 'cool' mother and encourage my kids to speak openly about all things controversial especially sex but I am disturbed that this movie has been rated 13+. It was one thing that I as their mother took them to the movie but the idea that I could have dropped them off at the theatre with a bunch of 13 yr old girlfriends to see this is nuts. Am I all of a sudden out of touch or are we becoming immune to letting the youngest teens be exposed to this kind of humor which involves extreme profanity and explicit sexual undertones. I hate saying 'when I was a kid' but when I was a kid I can't imagine this kind of movie being labeled 13 +. In all fairness, I should have done my homework better instead of trusting some organization to decide what is age appropriate for my kids because clearly I for one disagree. I did notice that if you read reviews of the movie online it is rated R but when listed on your theatre it reads 13+ ?? obviously not very regulated.


Even though the boy is not here for Easter weekend I decided to get a turkey. Sadly when he's not around I really cook very little because my cooking is still mostly unappreciated by picky teenagers. I try to give them at least 1 protein, 1 kind of carbohydrate and 1 veggie (for Jo at least :)) but they still prefer it very simple and I have mastered that kind of cooking in about 15 min. Anything too exotic or God forbid ethnic will not get eaten so I tend to bread a lot of chicken, boil a lot of pasta and bake a lot of potatoes. Having a turkey here all week makes things simple and I can change it up as the week goes on. Tonight I'll make the open faced turkey sandwiches with gravy and leftover baked potatoes that I sliced and roasted until crisp.

We've already had turkey wraps for lunch and tomorrow night I'll probably make cheese and whole wheat pasta with turkey inside. I can happily eat it all week but after tomorrow's dinner I'll be pushing it with them. My goal of freezer and pantry purging is not easy with these 2 picky people but I'm still workin on it. I've had someone come and buy both of my freezers in the garage and promised him he could have one this week and one when we leave so my 'baking and bread' freezer is almost empty. Also the fridge freezer in the basement which is my pie and pesto freezer has only 1 apple pie left from the summer which Steve will be only too happy to eat when gets home this weekend. Yes I have a pie and pesto freezer :)


It's Easter weekend and I decided to take the girls to Ottawa for the night. The boy is in Edmonton for 2 weeks working and looking for a house for us to live in and we were given a weather forecast of 24 on Friday and 28 on Saturday! I thought it would be a good chance to enjoy the weather and get the girls off of their computers for a while. I love Ottawa and it's only a 1 1/2 hr drive from us. After spending 2 hrs looking for a pet hotel to take Daisy to I finally gave up and instead found a pet 'friendly' hotel so that we could take her with us. I had planned on taking them to the Civilization museum but no dogs allowed so we pretty much just walked and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. The Parliament buildings are so fantastic to look at and I really feel proud to be Canadian whenever I see them up close, you would think they were built thousands of years ago and always remind me of being in London.

 We took a walk to the Byward Market and the girls found a bead shop where they were able to design and make their own bracelet, it was great because the store was also pet friendly and Daisy got tons of attention. She was a huge pain though and reminded me of how much work owning a dog can be, I was so envious of other people walking by with nice calm dogs doing what they were told. Finally we took her back to the hotel room and left her alone for an hour or so to grab some dinner. The next day we walked back to the market and had lunch on a terrace soaking in the sun, it's amazing how good that feels after a long cold winter spent indoors. So even though we couldn't go inside an do anything with Daisy, it turned out to be a really nice weekend.  On our way out we picked up some beautiful lilies which are my 2nd favorite to tulips!