Tasty banana crepes for Little Boy Blue – just two ingredients!

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This has to be the easiest peasiest recipe on the planet.

 No lie. There are only two ingredients in this gorgeous breakfast crepe.  No milk, no flour. Here’s how to make this tasty treat. Then read on to find out how it brightens your morning. More

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia. Don’t eat your potted pet!

Chia pudding cup

Try this creamy chocolate chia pudding, instead.

Do you remember those cute little Chia pets that blew onto the scene about 30 years ago?  We’d water them and give them a little love, and they rewarded us by growing green hair and fur in all the right places. More

New indexes let you browse Vinny’s recipes like a cook book

 

Now where was that?

Now where was that?

Vinny had a problem

Recently, while trying to find a recipe I knew I’d posted somewhere, I realized how hard it is to search through posts on Cook Up A Story.

More

How to make sardines taste good! OR… Eat fish to fire up your memory

No added salt - just wild Canadian sardines and water.

No added salt – just wild Canadian sardines and water.

Omega-3 fats are vital to the workings of our brain, the most important organ of our body. They keep our memories sharp and our minds on target. Sadly, the average North American diet is not a welcoming place for these guys. More

When it’s hot, it hurts – Salmon baked with green chili sauce in banana leaves

Salmon in banana leaves

This recipe from Chef Mo captured my imagine. Then it seared into my soul!

When a reader from Texas told me where to find purple yams here in Canada, I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to find banana leaves, either. Sure enough, a small store just 10 minutes away sold them.

Giant leaves in hand (these things are humongous), I set about getting dinner ready for guests coming to a birthday party.

The night before the big day, disaster struck. More

Stefan’s fennel side-dish, Italian style

Braised fennel with chinese chicken

Fennel makes a great side for barbecued chicken.

Fennel’s a bit of an odd vegetable. Although he turns up in the produce departments of most super markets, he’s not really a regular guest at most people’s tables. Fennel’s best pals with Celery, another kind-of-blah veggie that is often left languishing. These two veggies have the same pale greenish-white crisp flesh. And Fennel’s stalks grow around one another like Celery’s stalks do. Both veggies can be served raw or cooked. And both have a fibrous, mind flavor.

But Fennel deserves a closer look. Once you get to know him, you’ll see he’s loaded with character. More

Walnuts stewed, are more quietly chewed: An earthy walnut and mushroom soup

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This walnut soup idea grew from a recipe I had saved from a teenage chef in Texas, who says his friends loved it. He’s probably grown up by now and very smart indeed if he’s continued down the walnut-tree-lined road of healthy eating. I found the earthiness of the walnuts in this dish was nice. The original recipe might be something the kids in the family would take to. But for me,  I needed a little more oomph on my spoon. More

Walnuts raw, develop the jaw: Crunchy leafless party salad

walnut

Walnuts slash diabetic risk by a quarter. Click pic for more.

Raw walnuts not only provide a workout for your chin, they also strengthen bones and teeth.

Then too, walnuts help you remember things… like the leafless salad I promised to post in last week’s blog entry. That’s because of the huge amounts of the rarer fat component omega-3 that walnuts have. Remember?  More

Where’s Walnuts?

One walnut hiding among other tasty nuts

Can you spot the walnut hiding among all these other tasty tree nuts?

Walnuts, raw
Develop the jaw,
But walnuts, stewed,
Are more quietly chewed.
with a gentle nod to Ogden Nash

Crunchy or pureed, if we’re smart, walnuts will be found hiding on our plates in everything from soup to salads! I’m so impressed with walnuts’ healthy benefits, I hardly know where to begin. Have you heard of the quinone  juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, or the flavonol morin? I hadn’t, until recently.

But we don’t have to remember their names. We just have to remember where they hang out… in walnuts! More

Round Vinny Grette’s kitchen in pictures – best recipes of 2013

Here Vinny presents his best efforts for 2013 –
easy, healthy, and kid friendly food.
For a glimpse into Vinny’s kitchen, click on any picture.

For recipes, copy and paste the link that appears below each caption. More

Macadamia treats us to her tea cake

Macadamia nut tea cake

A tea cake from a tropical paradise for your valentine.

Last week I posted about our Miss Hawaii, in particular, how Macadamia with her low omega-6 offers a treasure chest of healthy, stable  fats for your dining pleasure.

Now, as promised, here is a recipe for you to try out, featuring macadamia nuts and their oil. More

Miss Hawaii takes the crown. Three cheers for Macadamia!

Macadamia wears the crown

Macadamia is the sweetheart of Hawaii.

Verse 3

Whose dress is made of sweetgrass?
who wears a golden lei-a?
Who’s promised to be kind and true?
Ma-ca-da-m-i-a.

Okay… maybe this poetry thing is a little beyond my capabilities. But before I finish with my nutty soliloquy begun in my past two posts, I wanted to sing the praises of Macadamia. Difficulty with rhyming and pentameters isn’t going to hold me back. Because if I’m any judge, Macadamia wins the healthy nut contest hands down.  And it’s not just because of her pretty face and fine figure. More

My little nut tree’s almond cookies

Chewy almond butter cookies

Chewy almond-butter cookies

 Verse 2

My little granddaughter
Came to visit me,
And all for a taste
Of my almond cook-kie.

Last week, I talked about my almond tree, and all the benefits you get when you include almonds in your meal plan. I also gave you some ideas to do just that. This week brings some recipe ideas. More

I had a little nut tree… ode to almonds

Almond blossoms

Almond tree in bloom

The nut tree in the well-known nursery rhyme bore nothing… except silver and gold that is, which, as everyone knows, taste awful.

But those who have been reading along with Vinny know that nut trees in real life bear many wondrous things, more precious than money. More

Melting moments – A Christmas story tied up in bows

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Pinecone cake – a labor of love

“I don’t care about Christmas.” Eddy kicks the kitchen stool. “It won’t be the same, without Gramma.” Eddy’s heart feels frozen—it’s been that way ever since Gramma died.

Darren sighs. “Yeah, it’s been tough, buddy.”  He kneels beside his brother so he can see right into Eddy’s eyes. “Remember Gramma’s Christmas cookies?” Darren asks. “Let’s make some Melting moments.”

Eddy thinks of Gramma’s laugh when he got flour on his nose. “OK… I guess,” he says and reaches for Gramma’s recipe box. More

Mood Foods

Christmas bread

Christmas bread smells like good times

Study Guide for Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 6

This is the last in my series on study guides for the print version of Cook Up A Story. Chapter 6 is about how our moods affect our food choices. We’re wired that way. The part of the brain that stores memory and feelings detects smells, too. That’s why when we’re blue, we crave foods that remind us of good times.

Christmas is one of those happy times. But sometimes life sends us a zinger and we’re just not in the mood.

The story in our final chapter, Melting Moments, shows how cheery memories are braided together with smells, sounds and tastes. When a small boy finds himself missing his grandmother, he takes comfort in his family and its holiday traditions. More

Don’t be shy… Milk’s got it!

Joe is quite the artist - More milk please

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 5

The many faces of milk is what Chapter 5 of the print version of Cook Up A Story is all about. The story, More Milk Please, offers a time-honored recipe for getting along with people—especially people of the opposite gender. Her best friend Jill and a jug of milk is all it takes to help Izzie overcome her awkward shyness. More

Mmmm… I . love . turtles!

Apple turtle

Mother Turtle, made from apples, casts a powerful spell used in healing
among First Nations people.

In Native American stories, the turtle is a symbol for Mother Earth. This ancient animal commonly lives as long as 150 years. Its shell keeps her safe. And her slow even pace through life sets an example for people to keep going when the going gets tough. Turtle always makes time to enjoy every moment life has to offer.

To honor the turtle, I suggested to my friend Isla that we could make some for Christmas. “They’re so tasty!” I said. More

Guilt-free advent ideas for kids of all ages

Bearwood rear gardens

English mansion

News flash – Vinny celebrates his third anniversary on WordPress today!

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It’s December! Many people start counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Each day comes with a thought, a scene, and/or a chocolate candy that brings us closer to the real meaning of the holiday. More

Creamy creamless triple chocolate pudding… loaded with omega-9

Avocado Mousse

Pot au chocolat à la avocado

Instead of the suspicious fats usually lurking in rich desserts from eggs and heavy cream and butter, this chocolate pudding hides a Secret Agent known far and wide for his success in fighting disease. His name? Detective Avocado. Once he was a little green. But in this recipe, he’s matured to a ripe, dark brown. More

Friendly fiber… When things go wrong, move on

Make magic with prunes

Make magic with prunes

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 4

Chapter 4 of the print version of Cook Up A Story  is all about fiber… a sometimes distasteful subject. The story, Prune Puff,  doesn’t disappoint. It’s all about how ridiculously wrong things can go in the kitchen, when Clark tries to come up with a good science project. But you can do better than Clark. Follow Vinny’s simple recipe and concoct a delicious light luscious delectable cake… full of healthy fiber. Then, test your food science know-how. Take a quiz on fiber and do an experiment on the ingredient that puffs cakes up – baking powder.

The story underlines how important it is to label foods carefully. And not just in your own kitchen. All processed foods we buy have to be labeled. Vinny shows us how to understand the information on food labels.  Everybody can take a minute to refresh their know-how in this area – so important! More

Yes, we have no bananas…

Look what deliciousness you can make from those yucky over-ripe bananas.

Turn waste into want.

This is how I explained it to my friend Will, who turned up the other day wanting a banana… and nothing else would do.

“We DO have bananas,” I said, showing Will the goods. “But you won’t want to eat them as they are.” The black, squishy fruits resembled bananas only in shape. More

Dad’s efforts in the kitchen often go unsung. Let’s sing!

Dad in the kitchenLest we forget…

In honor of Remembrance Day, on what would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday, I’m reposting a feature from the spring. If it’s the second time around for you, a little refreshing of the memory wouldn’t hurt. It’s a wonderful dish. And it touches on times during the Second World War. More

Hey, Toronto!

Vinny-p03Please pass the word to your friends :)

Howdie! If any of my faithful readers are in downtown Toronto on Saturday, November 9, why don’t you drop by for a visit?

Sharon and I are in town for a child-development conference sponsored by Sick Kids, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, talking about our book Cook Up A Story. We’re at the Novotel Toronto Centre, 46 The Esplanade, second floor, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Come by for a chat. It will be so nice to meet you! More

How spun sugar takes the cake

Candied hazelnuts

Glittering threads of sugar crystallized from hazel nut centers.

Totally in awe is the only way to describe my state at 1:00 am on the eve of my sister’s birthday. À la Vinny, I don’t usually play around with sugar in my cooking. I see it as an ingredient to be swapped out rather than celebrated.

But it was a birthday party, and we needed a cake. Not just any cake… but a gluten-free confection, so the birthday girl could have some, too. More

Meal time is family time

Holiday  turkey

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 3

Chapter 3 of the print version of Cook Up A Story  offers kids a family ghost to scare them silly. Little Miss Ellie and the princess’s pie makes for a tasty Halloween treat. Then bake two delicious dishes from Ellie’s past. Ellie’s mixed French and Native background helps us learn to appreciate foods from other cultures. Sit down for a cozy chat with your folks and unmask recipes that conjure up your own family’s skeletons. Vinny uses Ellie’s Native roots to discuss food labels we see at the store: natural, organic, local, large-scale producers… We soon see that no one size fits all. There’s a lot to learn and the choice is up to us. More

Ghost frogs…

Ghost frogs and pumpkin brule

And pumpkin crème brulé!

Of course, the frog part was an accident.

When my little meringue ghosts collapsed after their stint in the oven into weird brown froggies on lily pads, I put it down to the stevia I subbed for more than half the sugar. It seems that for meringues to hold their height, the sugar-to-eggwhite ratio is crucial. Live and learn. More

Pump it! Fuel up with good food

barbecuing

The outdoors and exercise go hand-in-hand


Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

 

CHAPTER 2

In Chapter 2 of the print version of Cook Up A Story,  read Birthday bumps. It’s a hair-raising adventure about boys on the river, frogs, and wishes gone bad. Then make two delicious campfire treats: wings on a stick and birthday cupcakes baked in orange skins. Use a campfire, a barbecue, or your oven. Flip and Tigger introduce the idea of food as fuel. Vinny targets carbohydrates and suggests ways to gear up for active lives. Exercise is the chapter’s theme. More

Vinny’s first give-away garners bouquets from Singapore

package

Happiness often slips in through a door you never knew you left open. That’s my calendar’s message this morning, and it’s proving true in many ways. Here’s one example. Vinny’s pleased to announce that his first attempt at a give-away is all tidied up. His prize, a copy of his book, goes global! More

Chapter 1 of Vinny’s book: Body Basics

Wauna's ice krispies

Wauna’s ice krispies

 

Study Guide to Cook Up A Story

CHAPTER 1 – BODY BASICS

In the print version of Vinny’s book Cook Up A Story, read Vinny’s original fairy tale, Wauna’s Song. Then cook up some  Ice Krispies, mentioned in Wauna’s joke to the evil Snow-Woman. Wauna makes it easy to learn about your body, how it works, and how we need balanced  meals to make it run smoothly. More

Study Guide – Turning a New Page

A family's guide to healthy eating

Making nutrition fun through stories

I’m helping Vinny set up a new page in his main menu, called Study Guide.

The plan is to present a guide to healthy eating at home and school, for parents and teachers, based on Cook Up A Story.

Cook Up A Story started out as a way to introduce kids and their families to healthy eating ideas. I hoped to make nutrition fun through stories.

I began with a print book of six adventures for kids, where food is a part of the plot. The stories make bridges to nonfiction articles on the basics of nutrition the whole family can enjoy. The book also features recipes with healthy ingredients, so families can cook up the dishes that star in the tales. More

Pack these sweet potatoes into kids’ lunches

sweet potato cookies, kids' lunches, low-sugar

Sweet Potato Cookies Get Top Marks for “Delicious!”

Your eyes are not deceiving you. You are indeed looking once again at sweet potatoes! I mashed them up with some prune butter and a little maple syrup. Then I made a cookie dough by adding oatmeal, whole-grain flour, and ground sun-flower seeds.  More

One potato, sweet potato, bean potato, more!

Sweet Patooty dresses for dinner

Sweet Patooty dresses for dinner

Our Sweet Patooty is not just another pretty face. There’s so much goodness under her skin, I hardly know where to start. She comes from a large family.  There are at least 18 relatives you might meet at the supermarket. All of them bring great qualities to the table. Some have orange or reddish skins, while others are purple-skinned. The purple ones can have white or purple flesh. But we don’t discriminate based on the color of the skin… More

Sweet patooty makes quick work of flaky biscuits

sweet potato and greek yogurt scones

Fat, protein, and complex starches make good guards for refined flour and sugar.

In my last post I came down pretty hard on refined white flour. That’s the silky white wheat flour that bakers love to use in cakes and cookies. I was harsh with it because it’s  such a soft touch! At the first sign of strong acids in our stomachs, it breaks down into the sugar our body uses for energy. And to make matters worse, More

Wheat and the Glycemic Index… Loaded question!

Wheat

The glycemic load might be a better guide to healthy eating than the glycemic index

What should we believe? The Internet bombards us with so many facts, ideas, opinions and outright lies, it’s hard to make out the signal from the noise.

Dr. Davis in his book Wheat Belly makes a lot of noise about wheat. He calls it a blight and a poison and says no-one should eat it, not just the 6% of us who are gluten intolerant. But many of his statements are misleading. More

Imagine… Tasty substitutions that work for good health!

Ice krispies

Ice krispy cakes are even healthier made from brown rice cereal, fortified with flaxmeal. The recipe is included in Vinny’s book.

Following on from last week’s account of a disaster averted while trying to alter a recipe, I’m sharing a wonderful post I found on-line this week. It’s all about how to make successful substitutions, mainly in baked goods, but in other ways, too. More

Pineapple marries well with French vintner: Begets fab summer soup

Soup - Pineapple gazpacho

Like Harry Potter’s phoenix, good things can rise up again.

When a person insists on changing recipes, stuff can go hay-wire. Take this pineapple gazpacho, for example. More

Wheat is not satan… but look out for those sneaky little sugar devils

This sinister gilded crust was the model for Salvador Dali's famous painting Bread 1926.

This sinister gilded crust was the model for Salvador Dali’s famous painting, “Bread 1926.”

But is bread the only villain in today’s battle with obesity? How did this food, which people have enjoyed since the dawn of agriculture, get such a bad rap?

Doctor William Davis leads the attack. In his book Wheat Belly, he blames wheat and wheat alone for everything from heart disease to diabetes to arthritis and everything in between. His inflammatory accusations have some validity, of course. But overall, I think the good doctor is stirring the pot with too big a spoon. More

Summer shrimp quesadillas – hot, hot, hot!

shrimp quesadilla

My first-ever home-made quesadilla

Spicy foods are great for boosting your metabolism. That means you’ll burn off the fat in your meals much more quickly than otherwise. All good! So I’m always looking for ways to inject a little spice into my menus. More

Beat food cravings – Reblog

Vinny Grette:

Vinny Says…

It’s so hard to control cravings while at the cottage, for some reason. I came across this helpful chart the other day, though, and thought it was worth sharing. Like, this morning for example… When presented with a tray full of sweet, home-made sticky buns, instead of the plain unadorned, brown sugary ones, I chose the ones full of nuts! Haha. That wasn’t much of a healthy substitution if I was looking to keep my calorie count down. I’d have to swim all day to make up for giving in to this treat. But… the nuts add lots of great nutrients! And you don’t get home-made bread every day. So worth the splurge!

In the meantime, here’s a reminder. Go check out Vinny’s Facebook Page! 

Originally posted on Earn Your Body:

Food Cravings. A dieter’s worst nightmare.  How many of us can say I have never craved chocolate, chips, or an entire plate of pasta.  Cravings can single handedly destroy a diet or healthy nutrition lifestyle.  If we don’t answer our cravings, they tend to build and get worse.  I came across a great pin the other day that explained what your body is really craving when it wants chocolate and also some healthy options to replace chocolate with but still satisfy the craving.  Take a look below for a list of popular food cravings and how to cope.

Image

Remember these replacements. Maybe copy or printout this chart and hang it in your kitchen.  Ignoring food cravings is just as bad as giving into them.  Substitute a healthy option and you will have more control over not only your cravings but you diet.  NO EXCUSES. EARN YOUR BODY.

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Watermelon… It’s the berries!

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Cool off with watermelon

Who would have thought the common watermelon is a berry? Botanists call its fruit a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.

Like other berries we love, the watermelon is packed with goodness. It has the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.

Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off More

Our Lady Pomegranate swings her partners

Pomegranate

Last time, I told you about the powerful effects offered by the lovely Pomegranate. If you haven’t already seen that post, check it out here.

This time, I want to focus on how to use this wonderful ingredient. Like… if it’s new to you, you might not know how to get past the blushing hard skin to the fruit inside. Turns out, it’s easy if you More

Give Away – shhhh don’t tell

Vinny cart p17

Oh, go ahead. Tell everybody. Vinny is doing his very first give away! More

Pomegranate: Goddess of Love

This golden decoration is from 12th century doors of the Cathedral of Madonna del Granato, AKA Pomegranate! Near Paestum, Italy.

It’s summer time and love is in the air. Alas, humidity and heat are also abundant. What to do! We need ways to stay cool and fit. Enter Lady Pomegranate.

Pomegranates have played a role in both our spiritual and physical lives for thousands of years. The blood-red seeds spilling forth when you cut into the thick skin appeals to people on a primal level. More

Pineapple kings them all!

Pineapple Chutney

Pineapple wears a crown for a reason. It is royally healthy. In fact, it may be the healthiest fruit we can eat. More

The sunshine food – mushrooms!

Mushrooms

Add light and grow your own vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only item in your produce section that can perform this feat.

Vinny presents  a photo-story today, for your viewing pleasure. More

The Faerie Queene’s Mushrooms: Pure Majic

Blue oyster mushrooms weave a safety net for your heart

Blue oyster faeries weave a safety net for your heart

The Faerie Queene hung her head. Her heart ached and she knew not what might mend it.

She summoned her trusty knights to her fortress deep in the forest. “Dear Sirs,” she began. “Your mission is to find a way to chase the chill from my blood.”

Sir Woe-be-Gone spoke first. “Rub a paste of mustard and lemon over your neck,” he said. “And get a good night’s sleep.”

Sir Cry-No-Tears piped up next. “Balderdash! What’s needed is a steamy tea, flavored with  garlic and thin slices of onion.”

Then a sweet voice sang out above the rest. More

A one-act play: Angel Cake Nightmares

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Isla inspects our ingredients

I always thought that if a kid can read, he can cook. However, as I get more and more into cooking, I’m learning it ain’t necessarily so. The watchful eye of a parent, or anybody at all who knows what they’re doing, is a wonderful thing.

Now that he’s seven, my pal Will is reading gang-busters. So shouldn’t he be able to cook? Witness this one-act play staged in my kitchen and decide for yourself… More

Cinderella soup stock becomes a princess

Adela's shitake and spinach party soup

Thanks, Mom! And just in time for Mother’s Day :)

A  few weeks ago Vinny was all excited about turning leftovers usually meant for the garbage into a nutritious soup stock (see Garbage soup). Once you get into the habit, it’s a magical way to feed yourself,  body and soul.

Yesterday, though, I read a post from Things my Belly Likes where we’re told how to turn your Cinderella soup stock into a princess. A few of these tricks were new to me. As they all sound so reasonable, healthy, and delicious, I pass them on here. More

Hungry enough to eat an ox?

Most times we settled for a turkey

I owe my existence to a mining engineer. Without Bill’s passion for food, as well as rare minerals, I wouldn’t be blogging today. It was Bill who took his daughter Sharon, my alter-ego,  under his formidable wing and taught her to cook.

Sundays would see Bill in his tiny, lemon-hued 1950s kitchen pouring over one of his many fish-splattered and chocolate-speckled cook books. Sharon was there, too, in her pleated skirt with her blouse hanging out, helping him find the canned pineapple bits, the dented More

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