Look who’s on first: Avocado Crostini

Avocado crostini

Green is clean

Avocado crostini with goats cheese and chouriço, garnished with pistachios and red endive

The little bites at the start of a meal are often what we remember best. Here’s an easy appetizer that should hit a home-run for the crowd.

Choose an artisanal baguette baked fresh that day. If you must buy it ahead, wrap it well and freeze it for up to a week. A crusty-type loaf works better with this recipe than a chewy loaf. The chewy ones don’t toast as crisply and it’s harder to break off dainty bites. I learned this the hard way.

If you can find a loaf made from whole grain bread, take bonus points for good nutrition! Some more tips… More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avocado & Comice… a Great Pair of Pears

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The Avocado and the Pear

Short and squat, Miss Comice Pear rolled into his office. “I want you to defend me,” she exclaimed, blushing a rosy red.

A desk plaque proclaimed the man she was addressing to be the Honorable V. H. Avocado, LL.M. “What is the charge?” the lawyer asked.

“They say I’m harboring a load of sugar. They accuse me of doing great harm. But it’s not true!” Comice was distraught.

“Calm down,” replied Mr. Avocado. He adjusted his dark green jacket over his rather-rounded middle. “Perhaps if you began from the beginning?” More

Probiotics: Sour cabbage is sweet!

Bavarian chicken

Will and Isla carefully chop through mountains of cabbage.

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

“Sing along,” says Vinny, waving his arms furiously in time to the music.

“In the old days,” he went on, “people made their own sauerkraut so they would have veggies to eat during the long winters.Your great grandpappy was a sauerkraut-maker extraordinaire. People came from all over to buy his home-made kraut. Now, we just go More

Garbage soup

Garbage soup

DIY with a different soup every time

On a winter’s night after a long day’s walk, a ragged beggar finds himself in a quiet farming village. He dreams of a warm fire and a hot meal. He knocks on the door of a tidy house. A pair of eyes peer out at him from behind the printed curtain. But no-one opens the door. At the next house a young woman with a crying baby tells him she has nothing to spare. He is even turned away from the Ukrainian church, where a few women are sewing together on a patchwork quilt. More

Something’s fishy…

Pee-yew!

Pee-yew!

If you hate smelling up your kitchen, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the deliciousness of  fresh or fresh-frozen fish. Just cook it on the barbecue, outside! It’s easy for every day and delicious enough for any special occasion.

Fish is full of those hard to come by but oh so important omega-3 fatty acids. They are important, first, because More

eGgs and veG… Happy Easter, Breakfast!

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Humpty on the half shell

“What experiments are we doing, today, Vinny?’ asks Will, poking his head into my basket of vegs.

“SO many ways to cook eggs for breakfast,” says Vinny with glee. “Today, we’re going to try three of them.” More

Saint Paddy Revisited

Vinny Grette:

I’ve never tried reblogging before, but thought I’d give it a try this 17th of March. It’s St. Paddy’s day! Vinny’s Irish tea party from last year has lots of great links to recipes, songs and stories to help you celebrate the day with your family. Erin go bragh!

Originally posted on Cook Up a Story:

Tiger and Firefox turn two!

Tiger and Firefox come to the party!

Hey, kids, it’s Saint Paddy’s day, so why not throw a mad-cap Irish party? Get out your top hats and Irish bowlers, invite Tiger and Firefox to join us,  and set the table.

“But what should we serve?” ask Will and Isla.

View original 775 more words

Simply squash

Squash-o-copia - butternut, acorn, ambercup
Squash-o-copia:   butternut, acorn, and ambercup

“Simple!” Dr. Mike says. “Roasted squash is a delicious, low-fat side dish. Enjoy it on my 17-day diet, once you’ve completed the first cycle.”

So I decided to give it a try. The roasted butternut was so good, my friend ate the skin! I suppose that’s one way to boost your fiber – but not one I’d really recommend :). Squash tastes wonderful with lean poultry or pork.

Tip: to make the squash easier to cut, More

Kasha falling star, Put it in your pocket

Never let it fade away… ♪♪♭♪

Put Vinny’s recipe for mushroom and kasha soup in your pocket, too, and try it out on a rainy day. It’s a great way to get some healthy carbohydrates into your meal plan, as well as a slew of other nutrients.

If you aren’t of Ukrainian or Russian descent, kasha might be new to you. This ancient food, otherwise known as toasted buckwheat groats, is not a grain. It’s a More

The 17-day diet, starring Dr. Mike Morano

17-day diet

A doctor’s plan for rapid results

Vinny moves over to let Sharon talk about her adventures with the 17-day diet

Ok. Right off the bat my radar goes up. Anybody knows you can’t expect to lose weight fast… and keep it off. But Mike says, yes you can! He promises results that last. It’s right there on the front cover.

I crack the book open. His first words to me are, “Just give me 17 days.” How is this plan any different from all the other pitches out there? More

Garbanzos, Gangnam style!

It's not as fishy as it seems.

There’s nothing fishy about it!

Hey…Hey… Foxy Lady.  You gotta try this healthy recipe! Garbanzo beans, AKA chick peas, are the talk of Pinterest right now… hot hot… hot hot hot. Folks are roasting them whole by the bushel and popping them down as a handy snack. More

Avast! It’s a Pita Pan Bread Snack-Platter

She may not be Tinkerbell... but she does have wings!

She may not be Tinkerbell… but she does have wings!

Shiver me timbers, Matey! If flour lived in Never-Never Land, enriched white wheat flour would play the part of  Captain Hook. Arrrr. It’s bad to the core. In fact, it’s bad precisely because it doesn’t have a core. After milling, only the endosperm remains. The bran, which gives us fiber,  is discarded first in the grinding process. More

Fave fotos à la 2012

A year in review, through Vinny’s favorite pictures. The pictures are a fun way to index some of  the posts you liked best. Should old acquaintance be forgot… click through and remember! More

A Few Crunchy Numbers to Munch On… What was hot in 2012?

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Low-sugar cookies

"Skinny" Brownies

“Skinny” Brownies

Mohawk Gardens Public School

Vinny goes back to school

Beet cake

Choco-beet cake

Tibetan pie with it's hat off, so you can see what's inside

Yak’s Sherpa pie

Let's make some chips!

Kale and coconut oil

 

 Click the pics to view the posts   The carrots are cooked! Thanks to the WordPress gurus, we now know our blog, Cook Up A Story, got 11,000 views in 2012. People from all around the world logged on to read Vinny’s 41 stories over the year and to check out the 242 pictures we uploaded. I know there are lots of blogs out there with far bigger readerships, but I’m thrilled with the faithful following we’ve grown over the past year. Thanks so much to our readers who make blogging such a lot of  fun! More

Shape Up for Christmas!

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Our Christmas shapes inventory is pathetically low.

Those aren’t Christmas cookies, Vinny,” says Isla. She’s looking at a new batch of Melting Moments fresh from the oven, each decorated with a jewel of raspberry jam (no sugar added) and crowned with flakes of real gold leaf.

“Of course they are,” I say. “These are the cookies I make every Christmas. Ergo, they are Christmas cookies.” I smile and take a big bite. “Delicious!”

“But, Vinny! Christmas cookies gotta have shapes! They gotta look like candy canes or Christmas trees!” More

The Queen’s Beets – Let Them Eat Cake

“Woe is me!” sighs Marie.

Marie Antoinette found herself  bored silly. She had everything she wanted. If she clapped once, her servant would come with a tray full of chocolate cake. Twice got her steaming mugs of cocoa and cream. Three times and she went mad over baskets of truffles and éclairs. But she wasn’t happy. More

Beetniks: a winning formula

the beet goes on
Sonny and Cher, 1967

People who are into sports could take a winning tip from Sonny and Cher. In their top-100 hit of 1967, they say:  The beet goes on. That’s code, dudes. Yeah. They’re saying, like: Eat your beets, man, and you’ll run harder, longer, faster!

Sounds crazy, I know. But it turns out to be true. The latest scientific news came out this spring…  More

“Skinny” Brownies? Tricks for treats!

Halloween demands chocolate!

As it happens, a very chocolaty recipe jumped right onto my screen just after Halloween, from Chew Out Loud.

Health-conscious bloggers like Vinny, however, might think this recipe seemed a tad high on sugar (2 1/2 cups). So I experimented with stevia in place of sugar. More

Mini Chefs Dish up Maxi Nutrition

This spring Cook Up A Story caught the imagination of a public school teacher in Burlington, Ontario. John Highley, who teaches at Mohawk Gardens Public School, said, “If we can  get the word out to schools, this thing might take right off. I see teachers using Cook Up a Story as a resource in their classrooms for nutrition/health units from grades 1 to 6, as well as the grade 5 chemistry unit.” More

Come, Mr. Tally Man, Tally Me Bananas

Not only monkeys eat bananas,,, kids like them too

“Um, Excuse me… Sorry. Mr. Tally Man?asks Fozzie Bear.Uh, what’s that? What’s a tally man?”

Sesame Street’s guest star Harry Belafonte answers this burning question once and for all. The singer tells his muppet pals the tally man is a very important person. Without him, people in northern countries would have no bananas.

“Daaaaay yo! No bananas?” I holler. “What would kids ever do without bananas?” More

Yackity’s Life-Ever-Lasting Tibetan Pie

Recipe for eternal youth – Sherpa’s pie

My last time out I told you the tale of how Yackity came to live on a farm in Canada. It was a fine life, and Yackity learned how to grow many kinds of foods and make lots of delicious and healthy meals. But there was one dish that her mother had made for her which was always a favorite.

We can imagine inhabitants of Shangri-La baking Yackity’s one-dish dinner for their pampered guests. Its healthful ingredients likely held the key to their long lives! More

Yackity’s Yaks

Let me tell you the strange tale of how a Sherpa girl called Yackity ended up on a ranch far from home and got to the meat of the matter. More

I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts, tra la

Click on the coconut to hear Grampa’s song

My Great-Great-Ever-So-Great Grampa used to sing about coconuts at the top of his lungs. But he wasn’t much into eating them. Although he loved fine dining, his choices rarely included stuff that was good for him. Broccoli? Yuck! Brown bread? No way! Bring on the butter and the whipped cream! More

Little Annie Okra

Fiber Bonanza!

Annie Okra hits the target every time when it comes to scrubbing out our innards. Also known as “lady finger,”  this nutritious green pod is rich in fiber as well as some other gluey stuff. This duo helps digest your dinner.  More

Auntie-Oxidant rides to the rescue: A tribute to anti-rust agents in plants

Auntie Oxidant is hitch-hiking in your veggies. Give her a ride with this delicious creamed soup!

Auntie Oxidant is a kid’s best friend. Who wouldn’t want to have a powerful protector like her on their side? She’s a real fighter who guards our cells and disarms invaders that cause disease… good to have around. More

Stevia Story: Misty-Moisty Apple Cake

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. 

This little rhyme is one of the first things kids learn about healthy eating. One of baby’s first solid foods is apple sauce. And as kids grow, they often choose apples as a favorite snack. But are apples really so good for us? More

Stevia Story: Sand castles and cookies

Make us some sand dollars, please Vinny?

“If I owned this cottage, I would never go home,” Will proclaims. We were packing up after three weeks at a glorious lake house, and it was hard to say goodbye.

A favorite activity there was playing on the beach. Will got Bank Street and Isla hung out on Alta Vista, one rock over, building shark pools, irrigation systems, and frog forts. Builders had to keep one eye open in case wily Billy, the water snake, popped in for a visit… but for the most part we were left alone.

We did work up an appetite though. “Have you got any cookies for us today, Vinny?” Isla asks. More

Magnesium Battles the Evil Stroke

A plateful of Magnesium

Are your grandparents looking a little worn around the edges? Maybe you see them filling up on junk food or puffing away on cigarettes too often?

If so, they could be setting themselves up for a medical catastrophe known as Stroke. Holy smokes! That could be serious. Is there anything you can do to help? More

Raison d’etre

A whole bunch of raisins!

Once upon a time there was a bunch of grapes. They spent way too long in the sun and ended up as raisins. Did you know? More

Escargots and chocolate milk

Bon Appétit !

Escargot, if you don’t already know this, kiddies, is  French for snail. And that’s right, people eat them. In fact, many of best restaurants offer snails at high prices.

I personally knew one little girl who ordered escargots whenever she saw them on the menu, usually while we were driving in Quebec, Canada’s French province. She liked her snails with chocolate milk. More

Stevia’s a real sweetheart

Princess of sweet

Once upon a time, there lived  a magical sweetener, named Stevia. Cousin of Chrysanthemum and sister of Sunflower, Stevia was incredibly sweet. The truth is Stevia was 300 times sweeter than her ugly stepmother, Sugar. Better yet, Stevia was  sweet without any added calories. And best of all, Stevia was so much kinder than any of her catty artificial friends, who promise the same calorie-free hit but deliver nothing but trouble. More

Jubilation! A royal cake for Canada Day

Oh, Canada!

Our home and native land is celebrating a birthday! Isla says: We need to bake a cake. Of  course we do. I should have thought of that myself!

First, I thought about making a Victoria sponge cake, named after an old by-gone queen. But it  doesn’t make the grade as a food suitable for posting here, where we like to feature healthy eating for kids of all ages… Darn!

Then I made a wonderful discovery. More

Bertie Bott Pops some Corn

Every-flavored popcorn

Rain pounds against our skylight. We can hardly hear the movie above the noise, as Harry Potter and his friend Ron swap their Bertie Bott Every Flavor Beans with their friends. Toast, sardine,  grass, and dirty-sock flavors are all up for grabs. More

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