22 Nov 2016
in books, Desserts, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes, Snacks, stories
Tags: art, children, Christmas, family, healthier recipe, party food, wine
‘Tis the season, whether we like it or not. I personally love it! So much fun getting together with old friends, sharing some sparkly, sampling baking made at special times of the year, remembering happy days from years past… and meeting new neighbors! I even love the whole shopping thing, searching out little baubles to put under the tree and surprising the people I love.
That’s why I happily agreed to help my daughter Kristina host an open house at her place this year to launch the holiday season. We are offering all of the above and hope you’ll drop by to say hello and wish one another a merry holiday.
Kris and I will be showing some of our hand-made goodies for guests to look over and sample.
Frame some memories
Sea glass jewelry
Kris specializes in creating beautiful memories from sea glass. Her earrings, pendants, necklaces and other accessories are crafted from glass pieces sometimes centuries old, pounded by salt water and sand on our sea coasts into glittery, almost semi-precious stones.
They are nature’s gifts to us, broken bottles repurposed by the waves into wearable jewelry. If we’ve collected the glass ourselves, Kris weaves our own memories into every custom piece she crafts. If we become enchanted with one of Kris’s pieces from glass she’s collected over many years at the seaside, when we wear it, we are honoring the history of the coves where the glass beached.
Many of Kris’s pieces come from the shores of Nova Scotia near where the Titanic was lost, one of many vessels from times past which has cast its glass treasures into the deep.
But she also has glass collected from British Columbia, California, Hawaii, England, New Zealand, and Italy, among others. Every shard has been carefully labeled and preserved in its natural state. Choose a piece from a place you enjoyed visiting and share the memories.
Vinny says: when things go wrong, carry on.
Cook Up A Story
I have a few more copies available of the activity book I wrote, called Cook Up A Story. My collection of six adventures for kids 6-12 years old celebrates the family. Each story comes with recipes so kids can cook what they read. I use healthy ingredients when I can. Vinny Grette, the boy chef who hosts my book, offers his own take on cooking, with tips on the best foods for growing families, basic nutrition, food trivia, and cooking techniques… he even throws in the odd joke.
I’ve been busy sewing aprons and matching chef hats as a bonus for people who buy the book, which is available in different sizes and formats at a range of prices.
Whipped goat cheese with date and cranberry chutney
I’ll be offering samples of Vinny’s favorite recipes to enjoy with a nice glass of bubbly to toast the holidays. Some of the recipes are found only in my book. But many more appear here in Vinny’s blog. If you like them, you can whip them up yourself. Just enter the main ingredient in my search engine at the top of this post. Some treats on hand include:
Hope to see those of you who live nearby drop in on the 27 November.
Leave me a comment here if you would like the address details.
Even if you don’t like browsing, come anyway…. Just for the fun of it!
15 Nov 2016
in Drinks, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: apple cider vinegar, bananas, congestion, cough, honey, sea salt, sore throat
Despite what the Internet says, forget about tequila as a cure for a sore throat. Snopes says it’s wishful thinking.
If you want to boost your immune system and speed recovery from a sore throat, cough, or sinus congestion, think instead about honey, vinegar, green tea, sea salt and fiery spices. Many of these ideas are suitable for kids older than two years.
All raw honeys are helpful. Buckwheat honey has powerful medicinal properties at a reasonable price. But the star of the cold-busting honeys is Manuka, from New Zealand. If you can afford it, look for a Manuka honey with certified UMF content. It’s expensive, so beware of phonies masquerading as the real thing. There are several baddies out there.
Slowly dissolve 1-3 teaspoons of honey in your mouth on an empty stomach or between meals, once or twice a day. Or dissolve a tablespoonful in a warm cup of green tea. Avoid boiling water, as high heat spoils most of the antibacterial factors. The UMF in Manuka honey can, however, withstand heat.
Mix with 1 teaspoon cinnamon to enhance the effect even further.
2 Apple cider vinegar with the mother
Choose an organic apple cider vinegar with live probiotics, referred to as “the mother.”
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt (I buy sea salt) in about 3/4 cup of warm water (not hot and definitely not boiling water). Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Gargle with this liquid as often as you like, but at least three or four times a day.
3 Bedtime elixir to sooth a cold
- 3 teaspoons green tea leaves
- 3 or 4 cups water heated to 85C (below boiling)
- a few slices raw ginger, chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon honey (authentic Manuka if you have it)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- juice from half a lemon (1 or 2 tablespoons)
Optional but also good as immune system boosters
- a pinch of chili flakes
- 3 cloves
- 5 pepper corns
- a dash turmeric
- Add the tea leaves, all the spices and the honey to your teapot and steep them for 5 minutes in the hot water.
- Add the lemon juice and stir.
- Strain through a sieve into your teacup and sip through the evening.
- Use a tea cosy over the teapot to keep the heat in longer.
You should be able to taste the nip from the spices. The honey takes the edge off the lemon juice. This drink should have you feeling better in the morning. Keep drinking it until you feel back to normal.
4 Sea salt for congestion
Here’s a natural method that works wonders for me.
- If you are badly congested, get a nasal sinus wash from the drugstore. The kit contains a plastic bottle with a rounded nozzle and premeasured packets of sea salt.
- Use filtered water. Test the water on your wrist. It should feel neither hot nor cold. Body temperature is best.
- Dissolve the salt in the warmed water in the bottle and fill it to the mark. Leaning over a sink, squirt the water into one nostril at a time. The water passes through your sinuses and comes out the other nostril. Use half the liquid in the bottle in one nostril and the remaining half in the other nostril. Blow your nose lightly after each application. Follow all the instructions on the package.
- Wash the applicator and the bottle after every use and invert to let it drain dry.
5 Ripe bananas
Bananas are a rich source of manganese, an essential nutrient that helps promote wound healing for your lung tissues. Moreover, an enzyme called manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD) is a boost for respiration.
A protein called BanLec is also found in the pulp of ripe bananas. This protein helps to render viruses harmless. BanLec is attracted to the same sugar molecules that cover viruses, giving it antiviral agent properties.
Combine bananas with honey and you’ve got an effective remedy for a sore throat.
- 400 mL boiling water
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons of honey (Manuka honey if available)
- Peel the bananas, cut them up and mash them
- Add mashed bananas to the boiling water and allow to steep for 30 minutes
- Once the mixture has cooled, add the honey
- Drink the mixture four times a day (100 ml per serving)
- Make and use this remedy five days in a row
These are home remedies, so use them at your own risk. Bless you!
04 Oct 2016
in food, health, Salads, Side dishes
Tags: avoiding sugar, carrots, nutrition, tomatoes
Turn carrots into a delicious, make-ahead party salad.
Pot luck party time
“What are you bringing to the pot luck picnic tomorrow, Vinny?”
Vinny looked at his super slim and very athletic friend. “Think I’ll bring a crunchy curried cauliflower salad, Val. It’s easy. I took it to a party on the weekend and it was a hit. I just added curly lettuce leaves and my own cabbage slaw to Farm Boy’s offering and I was done.”
“Crunchy?” asked Val. “Does that mean uncooked?”
“Why, yes,” said Vinny.
“Guess I won’t be eating any, then.” Val smiled.
“Oops, I forgot! You can’t eat uncooked fiber! Sorry!” said Vinny.
“No problem,” said Val. “There will be plenty of other things there I can eat.”
But Vinny loves a challenge and began to think how he could turn his salad into something his friend Val could eat too. Easy, he thought. Cooked carrots. Just peel, slice, and add a dressing.
He’d recently had something like this on a trip to Western Canada. The original recipe called for a cup of sugar. Good though it was, that wasn’t going to happen in Vinny’s salad. Here is Vinny’s version of the copper penny salad he enjoyed at Marlene’s, spiced up with ginger and curry.
Copper penny cooked carrot salad
- 2 pounds carrots, cut into pennies
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon ginger powder if you are avoiding fiber
- 1 can tomato soup
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or to taste (optional)… or an equivalent amount of liquid stevia.
- 1/2 cup vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 large green onions, sliced, for garnish (optional)
- Slice carrots into coins, then cook in boiling water until tender yet crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, then submerge in cold water to cool.
- Combine soup, oil, sweetener, vinegar, ginger and curry powder and simmer for 10 minutes to bring out the ginger taste.
- Pour the tomato dressing over the carrots. Chill till serving time. You can make this up to 3 days ahead. Increase the carrots to 3 pounds for a bigger crowd. There is lots of sauce, enough to dress a larger quantity.
- For a nice presentation: Heap the saucy carrot coins in the middle of a large, deep serving platter. Ring the carrots with quartered tomatoes. Decorate with chive flowers.
Heritage carrots… not perfect, but perfectly delicious. And just as nutritious!
Carrots make an excellent choice for a healthy future… crunchy, tasty and highly nutritious. Carrots are a particularly good source of beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants. They are friendly to people trying to watch their weight and are linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved eye health. The carotene antioxidants in carrots contribute to a reduced risk of cancer.
Vinny uses the natural sweetener stevia in place of sugar. He sometimes adds a little coconut palm sugar to enhance the taste of caramel but this is entirely optional. Stevia users learn how to adapt the amount of stevia to their own taste, getting just the right sweetness without going overboard. Too much leaves a bitter taste, which should be avoided🙂.
In salads, Vinny likes to use olive oil. But in this recipe, with so few ingredients, olive oil might be a bit strong.
Instead, he chose avocado oil for its mild taste. Then he added a bit of sesame seed oil to give a lovely nutty flavor. Other nut oils would also work. These are Vinny’s oils of choice because they have a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.
Spices all add unique disease-fighting properties through their high levels of antioxidants. This recipe features ginger and curry. Vinny loves to add spices to all his recipes to increase the nutritional impact, and, of course, the flavor.
29 Sep 2016
in food, stories
Malware is the high fructose corn syrup of our computer family.
Vinny took a breather over the summer to do some travelling. He’s been as far away as Slovenia and Italy, visiting with family in England en route. And back home he’s roamed as far as Saskatchewan in Western Canada and as near as White Lake in Ontario.
When he got home, he was in for a bit of a surprise. Vinny couldn’t load photos into Cook Up A Story any more. Even worse, he couldn’t load photos into his Facebook page.
He tried everything he could think of, calling on everybody he knew who knows plenty about computers. But all was in vain.
Opening a brand-new Facebook page worked for only a half hour before it stalled. Removing security apps either had no effect or a momentary one. Using a friend’s computer did not help. Changing browsers from Firefox to Internet Explorer didn’t work.
Loading a new browser, Chrome, was somewhat successful. It would upload photos onto Facebook… but not WordPress. Alas, Vinny was at a loss as to how to continue with his blog.
A friend recommended a one-man computer shop in the neighborhood which had a rep for being honest and for getting results. When I first described the situation, our computer whiz said he didn’t have a clue! But he said if I brought him my computer he would try a few things.
Turns out we had some Malware, which is the high-fructose corn syrup of the computer world. This particular program seeks out browsers, then blocks some stuff and allows other stuff. Although we could work with Facebook on Chrome, computer guy said that in time, this Malware would catch on to what we were doing and attack Chrome, too.
I picked up the Malware, he said, from viewing certain ads on the Internet. His advice: Never download an upgrade if I’m asked to click a link in order to view an internet site I encountered on the web. And stay away from any links on Facebook that say “Sponsored.”
Now we are wary. We love the Internet for all we can learn there. But you have to be careful. We thought we were… but obviously, we were not careful enough.
Vinny will be back on Tuesday with something new, just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for all the help we got as we worked this problem through… and for the plentiful supply of healthy food we have to choose from in our area for our Thanksgiving table. Amen.
09 Aug 2016
in food, health, recipes, Salads, Side dishes
Tags: eggs, lycopene, nutrition, tomatoes, vinaigrette
Vinny pays homage to the tomato
Vinny has been remiss! That means he’s made a big mistake, has been careless, or both. For although he has featured tomatoes in many posts, especially those where he is extolling the virtues of a bunch of super foods, he’s never devoted a post solely to these delicious vegetables… er, fruits, actually.
Recently, though, we were invited to a summer dinner party where tomato salad was the star. To my mind, it earned the “most delicious dish on the table” medal… which was quite a feat seeing as everything on the table tasted wonderful and was beautifully presented.
The hostess kindly shared her recipe with me, but before we go there, I want to salute the tomato.
Make your own tomato sauce to increase lycopene content.
Of all the plant compounds found in tomatoes, lycopene is the one to look out for. This compound is linked to better heart health, reduced cancer risk, and healthy skin, including increased resistance to sunburn!
Lycopene is the most abundant nutrient in the ripened tomato and is found in the highest amount in the skin.
The redder the tomato, the more lycopene it has.
Cooking increases the amount of lycopene in the tomatoes. Ketchup, tomato juice, and tomato-based sauces are thus the richest dietary sources of lycopene going. They provide more than 80% of dietary lycopene in the U.S.
Other foods affect how well your digestive system absorbs the tomato’s lycopene. Eating some healthy fats along with tomatoes increases absorption of lycopene by up to 4 times.
Even though processed tomato products are higher in lycopene, fresh, whole tomatoes are your best choice for good nutrition (unless you make you own tomato products at home, with less sugar and no preservatives).
Other tomato benefits
A tomato weighing in at 125 grams has only 22 calories. Eat your fill, without guilt.
Tomatoes give you lots of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K and folate. Vitamin C is a key antioxidant and disease fighter. Potassium and vitamin K keep your heart and bones in good shape. And folate is essential for moms-to-be.
Now that fresh, local tomatoes are showing up in stores and farmers’ markets in North America, it’s the perfect time to try this easy salad for yourself.
Single-serving, in a martini glass
Dorothy’s Amazing Tomato Salad
- 4 to 6 large tomatoes, with seeds removed, diced, and drained to remove excess liquid
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 8 slices cooked bacon, diced
- ¼ cup chopped green onion
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup vinegar
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or the equivalent amount of stevia)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Combine dressing ingredients. Refrigerate.
- Just before serving layer the ingredients in a serving dish: first tomatoes, then eggs, bacon and green onion last. Use a glass dish if you want to behold the layers and lovely color.
- Pour dressing over all.
This recipe combines many ingredients to give you the best possible nutrition from tomatoes. It contains lots of fresh tomatoes, with their lavish servings of lycopenes, vitamins and minerals. The ketchup ups the lycopene content even higher. The fat in the salad dressing, from the oil and cheese, helps with lycopene’s absorption. Plus there is a generous dose of protein from the eggs.
I cut the recipe in half to serve 4-6 and presented each guest with a single serving in a martini glass. I used avocado oil and apple cider vinegar, because it was what I had on hand. My hard-boiled eggs came out perfectly using Vinny’s technique, here. I boiled the eggs and crisped the bacon a day ahead.
Dorothy’s salad tastes as good as it looks. Make tomatoes a part of your summer fun and give your family a healthy boost.
02 Aug 2016
in Desserts, food
Tags: cream, custard, eggs, pastry, Slovenia
We just got home from a wonderful visit to Europe. One of our pleasures this trip was a leisurely tour of the small country of Slovenia. It’s a land where fairy tales come true. And to prove it, I’m posting a recipe for the heavenly Bled Cream Cake.
Every visitor to Bled has a slice of this famous cake. We had several! Over 12 million cakes, in fact, have been served over the past 60 years at the Park Hotel on Lake Bled.
Across from the Park Hotel high on a stark cliff sits Slovenia’s oldest castle, established in 1050. You can climb up there for a visit after you’ve polished off your cake. It’s a great way to burn up the extra calories. What a dreamy place to enjoy a divine piece of cake!
The famous Bled cream cake is a hit with the birds, too
The original Bled cream cake
Makes 10 slices
- 1 pound puff pastry
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- lemon zest from 1 lemon
- 3 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons fine sugar (caster)
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 egg white
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1. Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and leave it, still wrapped, at room temperature for 20 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to an oblong 12 x 15 inches. Trim the pastry edges neatly, then prick all over with a fork. Cut into two rectangles, each one 6 x 15 inches.
2. Place the pastry on a large baking sheet lined with baking paper and mark one rectangle into ten 3 inch squares, carefully cutting no more than halfway through the pastry. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
3. While the pastry is chilling, start making the pastry cream. Put the milk and lemon zest in a small heavy pan and slowly bring to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon fine sugar in a bowl until thick and pale. Sift the flour and stir in.
4. Pass the milk through a strainer to remove the lemon zest. Whisk the hot milk into the egg and flour mixture. Pour back into the pan. Thicken the custard by stirring over a low heat. Pour into a bowl, then cover. Leave until just cool, but not firmly set.
5. Whisk the egg white until stiff and whisk in the remaining caster sugar. Whip 2/3 cup of the cream until thick. Stir the rum into the custard. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the custard, followed by the whipped cream. Cover with wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Dampen the baking sheets around the pastry with cold water. Bake for 25 minutes, until nicely golden and light. Cool.
7. Pour 1 1/4 cups cream into a chilled bowl. Add the vanilla extract and sift over 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar. Whip the remaining cream.
8. Place the unmarked pastry sheet on a board and spread with the pastry cream, then the whipped cream. Put the marked pastry sheet on top. Dust with icing sugar. Slice along the marked lines with a sharp knife and serve.
Per serving: 435 calories. Protein 5.8 grams. Fat: 37.4 grams (14.3 saturated). Carbohydrate 26.8 grams (8.1 from sugar).
When I make this dessert, I use coconut palm sugar instead of ordinary granulated sugar. Check my post here for reasons.
18 May 2016
in food, health, Main dishes, recipes, Soups
Tags: beans, carrots, chick peas, chicken, lentils, Moroccan, oranges, pulses, soup, spices, stew, sweet potatoes
Vinny’s summer vacation
Summer is in the air and Vinny and I are heading for the great outdoors. That means you won’t likely be hearing from us here again till September rolls around.
We leave you with a one-pot dinner idea that you can make for a crowd over the summer. More
04 May 2016
in Drinks, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: avoiding sugar, cook books, fruit, limes, punch, reviews, soda water, Star Wars, Stevia
May the fourth be with you!
Enjoy a replay of a recipe we posted a few years back for a summertime drink that’s as good for you as it tastes. Fresh lime juice gives this cooler its Yoda color, and sparkling water adds the bubbles. For a gourmet touch, add some lime sorbet.
Click here for the recipe.
26 Apr 2016
in Appetizers, Breads, Desserts, Drinks, food, health, recipes, Salads, science, Soups
Tags: bananas, cakes, children, chocolate, family, fennel, nutrition, nuts
Vinny’s been updating older posts recently and putting them up on Yum Goggle. Yum Goggle features food photography from contributors around the world. The photos whet your appetite for the recipes you can get simply by clicking on the pictures or the words GET THE RECIPE. It’s a great site and we’re proud to be a part of the team. More
12 Apr 2016
in Desserts, food, health, recipes
Tags: birthday cake, chocolate, French, ganache, nutrition, pie, tart
It’s Sharon’s birthday today, so Vinny brings you a rich, chocolatey tart with no flour in the filling, that you can stick candles in and sing happy birthday around, merrily. With this dessert, you can enjoy a slice and know that along with your birthday calories, you are also getting a decent helping of nutrition.
If you are gluten intolerant, you must either not eat the crust, or make it without a crust, in which case it would be quite a different dessert, entirely.
It’s easy and reasonably quick to make, so your partner or kids should be able to whip it up in a flash.
I served this for my gourmet dinner group last month without candles, but with more fresh figs on the side, on crystal plates dusted with cocoa. Sadly, I forgot to get a picture. But I include a picture below, taken without decoration. I admit, I can’t make a decent pie crust, so I buy my crusts in the frozen foods section of the grocery store (hang my head in shame).
The gluten-free filling is like a French silk pie, AKA, chocolate ganache. It’s often served with whipped cream and more chocolate on top, but I think that is overkill. So good just as it is.
French chocolate-and-figs tart
Makes one 9-inch pie
Prepare the figs
- Wash the figs and cut each fruit into quarters.
Bake the pie shell
- 1 frozen 9-inch (23-cm) deep-dish pie shell, pricked with a fork
- Bake the shell on a cookie sheet at 375F to a soft golden brown or according to the package directions, about 15 minutes.
Mix the chocolate custard
- 115 grams dark chocolate, cut into chunks
- 90 grams coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 100 grams coconut palm sugar
- 20 grams cocoa powder
- 50 grams white chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons Grande Marnier, optional
- Melt the coconut oil in a pot suspended over a pan of simmering water.
- Add the chopped chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is nearly melted. Turn off the heat and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Add the Grand Marnier to the chocolate when it is cool.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl using a hand mixer, until the batter lightens in color, and gets thick and bubbly (about 5 minutes).
- Pour the cooled chocolate over the egg mixture slowly, and mix in gently with a plastic spatula.
- Add the cocoa and fold in with your spatula. Fold in the white chocolate chips.
Finish the pie
- Pour the chocolate custard into the shell and shake it a little it to even it out.
- Arrange the fig pieces on top of the tart.
- Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes, just until the filling is set. It should lose its shine and not wobble when shaken.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil and refrigerate until time to serve.
I use coconut palm sugar because it has a lower glycemic index than granulated sugar. The protein from the eggs helps retard the absorption of the sugar into the blood, as well. The coconut oil has special health-giving properties. And cocoa is the healthiest form of chocolate you can buy, as it has no added sugar or fat. Click the links for more discussion on these foods. Did I mention the filling is gluten free?
Happy birthday, from Vinny!
05 Apr 2016
in Desserts, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes
Tags: April Fool's Day, cinnamon, coconut palm sugar, fruit fool, ginger, pudding, rhubarb
What is an April Fool?
The only surprise I was treated to on April Fool’s Day was Alex Trebek, walking onto his game show set without his pants! I did, however, write this post for you on April 1st, which should entitle me to name my fruit pudding recipe April Fool. It’s a tasty British fruit “Fool,” in the traditional sense.
29 Mar 2016
in Appetizers, food, Main dishes, recipes
Tags: ancho spice mix, beans, environmental footprint, gourmet, gumbo, lentils, nutrition, protein, pulses, shrimp, Spanish, tapas
Year of the pulse…
In honor of this versatile food group, we present a dish starring beans, lentils and dried peas. We served our spicy shrimp gumbo as the opening course for our Spanish tapas gourmet dinner this year. But it works well in larger amounts as a main course, too. More
22 Mar 2016
in food, health, recipes
Tags: cleaning, disinfectant, pests, plants, vinegar
Carafe of white vinegar
My favorite use for vinegar is to make my own vinaigrette. No surprise! I’ve posted several versions over the years, as salad is now one of my favorite lunches.
But vinegar is good for so many things other than preserving or flavoring food. Here are five of my favorite nonfood uses for vinegar. More
15 Mar 2016
in Drinks, food, recipes
Tags: cava, cocktail, fruit, oranges, Spanish, wine
Spanish tapas dinner party
It’s that wonderful time of year when we host our annual gourmet dinner, which has been going on for a very long time now. We never get tired of trying out new recipes for our friends.
This year we chose a Spanish tapas theme, with the hope that we could prepare many of the dishes ahead of time and just enjoy ourselves on the evening.
To welcome our guests, we served a cocktail originating from Valencia, where oranges reign supreme. More
02 Mar 2016
in Desserts, food, health, recipes, science, stories
Tags: avoiding sugar, baking, cake, chocolate, cream cheese, eggs, goat cheese, Pi Day
A cake suitable for Pi day, photo by Tip Junkie
The story behind Pi day
Normally, I’d choose a pie to celebrate the math constant π (Pi = 3.14159…) on its special day, which is coming upon us soon. Scientists the world over will likely be tucking into a delicious slice of one, perhaps a banana cream or pecan pie, More
23 Feb 2016
in Desserts, Drinks, food, health, Salads, Snacks
Tags: antioxidants, B vitamins, goat cheese, kale, magnesium, mood foods, nutrition, potassium, watermelon
Watermelon is a mood food
As most of my friends fly south for the winter, I thought I’d inject a little sun into my own life with watermelon. Deep into February as we are, a food to lift our spirits seems in order.
I’ve covered some of this before, but for newer readers, are you surprised to learn that watermelon is a good source of the mood vitamins B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine)? I was. Turns out thiamine is important for maintaining electrolytes and transmitting nervous-system signals throughout the body. Pyridoxine works with enzymes that convert food into cellular energy.
Who needs warm weather… Let’s party!
Watermelon is a berry
Another surprising fact about watermelon… its fruit is a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.
Watermelon pepos offer the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.
Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off in lycopene, an antioxidant repeatedly studied in humans and found to protect against a whole slew of cancers… prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and colorectal, for starters.
Watermelon offers lots of beta-carotene and another antioxidant, vitamin C. Besides helping lycopene to ward off cancer, these vitamins also battle heart disease, arthritis, and asthma.
Then there is the mineral potassium, guardian of our cardiovascular system, brain, and kidneys.
Finally, watermelon provides lots of the master mineral magnesium. Magnesium is the big boss for over 300 cellular metabolic functions. Poor soils make magnesium scarce in today’s foods. Lack of magnesium is related to irritability, tension, sleep disorders, and muscular cramping, including the heart muscle (attack!).
How to enjoy watermelon
Watermelons retain most of their nutrition even after being cut and stored in the fridge. But watermelon is best eaten at room temperature when the flavor, plus the phytonutrient capacity, is at its best.
Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.
- one cup watermelon cubes
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- one cup kale, ribs removed and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 ounce goat cheese
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
- Drizzle them with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vodka. Let them soak it up for a few minutes.
- Use them to top a plateful of greens, kale in my photo, which I drizzled with avocado oil and massaged well.
- Top with crumbled feta cheese or, my favorite, goat cheese.
Vinny’s pink watermelon cooler
- 2 cups watermelon cubes, frozen
- 4 ice cubes
- Juice of one fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
- Juice of one fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
- 2-4 tablespoons of any sugar syrup you have. I used home-made red-current couli, But any fruit syrup, even grenadine (from pomegranates) or maple syrup, will do. I use an equivalent amount of stevia unless it’s a special occasion.
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 pinches of black pepper
- 3-4 ounces raspberry vodka (optional)
- ¼ to 1/3 cup club soda, depending on whether you add alcohol or not and the size of your glass
- Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
- If you want to serve some of the cocktails without alcohol, leave the vodka out and add it back to the glasses of the folks who want it.
- Fill each glass about halfway with the watermelon fizz. Add 1 ounce alcohol to each glass if you didn’t include it in the mix. Top up with club soda. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice if needed.
- Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.
When the winter blahs get you down, break out some watermelon and smile🙂.
14 Feb 2016
in Breakfast foods, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes
Tags: fiber, heart, nutrition, pancake, sugar, sweet potatoes, Valentine's day, vegetables
Luv U… B mine?
Here’s a terrific treat for the family on a day that celebrates all things close to the heart. It’s terrific because this valentine doesn’t involve candy, but it tastes wonderful, anyway.
My mystery delight involves sweet potatoes. They release their sugar gently, taking their time, so you don’t suffer from sugar spikes associated with refined white sugar that is added to most sweets.
I published this 4 years ago with all the good news about sweet potatoes. But I’ve since updated the photos and made the recipe even easier (there as well as here).
Light and fluffy!
Heart-y sweet potato pancakes
Serves 2 or 3
- 3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes (1 medium potato boiled until fork tender, then peeled, mashed, and measured)
- 1/4 cup flour (whole grain if possible)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 3 eggs (omega-3 if possible)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons liquid oil (coconut, if possible)
- Boil your sweet potato until fork tender. Then peel, mash, and measure. Use 1/4 cup mashed potato per egg, for each person. My recipe serves 3 people from 1 potato.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and canola oil. Of course you can use any kind of eggs, milk or oil…. but on a day we are celebrating love, I think we should be as kind to our hearts as we can be with these healthy ingredients.
- Whisk the sweet potato puree into the liquid ingredients. Then stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just blended.
Cooking and Presentation
- To follow through with hearts on Valentine’s Day, spray a large nonstick or cast-iron frying pan with oil and add a dab of butter for flavor. Heat the pan on medium heat until oil sizzles a bit.
- Fill the pan with 1/4-cup scoops of batter. I had room for 3 or 4 at a time. When bubbles rise to the surface of the pancakes, lift a corner and check the underside. When golden brown, flip the cake over, using a spatula. After a minute or three, once the second side is golden as well, flip the cake onto a wooden cutting board.
- Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, turn each pancake into a love-note for your sweetie. I presented these golden treats with a splash of maple syrup and some berries on the side.
Hey, sweet patootie, I yam keen on you! B mine?
“You are berry cute,” I said. “I think we’re cut out for each other!”
09 Feb 2016
in Appetizers, Desserts, Dips, food, health, recipes, Snacks
Tags: avoiding sugar, dip, easy recipes, goat cheese, icing, lemon, spread, Stevia, yogurt
Whipped goat cream
Once upon a time I came across a recipe that called for whipped goat cheese. So I took my basket and headed to the grocery store, where I eventually found a small tub of the stuff at three times the cost of regular, ordinary, every-day goat cheese.
When I finally had a minute to spare I sat down and examined the label. The ingredients were goat cheese and water… and a few chemicals. It seemed I’d bought a processed food fortified with who knows what. And I thought: why can’t I make that myself – and leave out the chemicals?
Why indeed. It’s so simple, I didn’t even need a food processor. I got great results with nothing but a spoon and a bowl.
Goat cheese and lemon – so easy to whip up
Whipped goat cream
Makes approx 1 1/4 cups or 20 tablespoons
- 1 cup (150 grams) goat cheese, at room temperature (mine comes in a tube)
- 2 tablespoons yogurt from 2% goat’s milk (I make my own… You don’t? OK, use natural Greek-style yogurt instead)
- freshly squeezed juice and finely grated zest from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- Stevia* to taste (0 calories) or 1 teaspoon honey
- sea salt, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons hot water, or as needed to achieve desired consistency
- Combine goat cheese, yogurt, sweetener, lemon juice and zest into a bowl.
- Cream them together with a wide spoon until smooth, adding 1-2 tablespoons of hot water, as needed, to get a light creamy consistency. Add more if you like it runnier, as for a dip perhaps.
- Season to taste with a little sea salt.
*This is a great recipe in which to experiment with Stevia, because it sweetens while enhancing the lemon flavor. It works better than sugar.
Pear taquitos with whipped goat cream
How to serve goat cream
This works great in the recipe I mentioned off the top, for pear taquitos. I make it often for special occasions, and it is always a success.
Whipped goat cream goes well with fruit and today I enjoyed it with sliced apple.
Use it as a low-sugar icing on cupcakes or tarts. Whipped goat cream adds moistness and tang to any chocolate, lemon, or banana treat.
Thin it out a bit more and use it as a veggie dip for carrots or turnip sticks.
Whipped goat cream works as a spread on crackers. I like it with Triscuits (20 calories each) but if you like bagels or toast, I’m sure it would be delicious there as a spread.
One tablespoon of whipped goat cream has 21 calories. It has equal amounts of fat and protein, about 1.5 grams each.
Whipped goat cream is a low-carb food, only 0.3 grams (if you use stevia to sweeten).
This food is a good source of vitamin A, niacin, riboflavin and iron.
By the way, you can reduce the amount of fat per tablespoon by adding more water. This is how manufacturers make low-fat butter and mayo. Now, you can make them too and save some money. They charge more for products with less fat because of the processing cost.
26 Jan 2016
in food, health, Side dishes
Tags: butternut squash, fats, fiber, potassium, ricotta, sweet potato, vitamin A, vitamin C
This sad butternut squash needs a make-over. Dress her up in Ricotta.
“Who wants to eat an ugly thing like that?” asked Will, staring down a decidedly unpleasant-looking butternut squash.
19 Jan 2016
in Appetizers, Main dishes, recipes
Tags: casseroles, cream, easy recipes, eggs, goat cheese, leeks, pears, quiche
A crustless quiche with a difference
Vinny’s blogged about pears, leeks, and goat cheese before. But here they team up to give you something a bit different. Sweet and savory meld to make an unusual main course for lunch or a spectacular beginning to a fancy dinner. And except for the chopping, it’s easy! More
12 Jan 2016
in food, health, Main dishes, recipes, stories
Tags: bacon, bluefish, fish, Gollum, green curry, haddock, snapper, sustainable fish, sustainable seafood
Gollum’s oven-baked haddock with bacon
This small, slimy hobbit lived on an island in the centre of an underground lake, in the story The Lord of the Rings. He was endowed with magic that extended his life well past the time when he should have left the building.
Gollum thought his staying power was due to a ring that he called My Precious. But I think his regular meals of cave fish and seaweed was the most likely reason for his amazing, long life. More
05 Jan 2016
in Appetizers, Dips, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes, Salads
Tags: crab, cream cheese, easy recipes, environmental sustainability, fish, mercury, seafood, sustainable seafood
Crab is a safe bet
Everybody loves fish for its lean protein and its omega-3s that do wonders for our brains. But these days our poor heads are so bombarded with info on which fish are facing extinction or which types are loaded with deadly mercury that we are almost afraid to try any fish at all.
I’m here to tell you though that plain steamed crab meat is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. More
29 Dec 2015
in Drinks, food, health, Holiday foods
Tags: ginger, mood foods, tea
Mrs. Claus serves a soothing cup of tea.
Santa felt poorly. He was dead tired after his epic night’s ride around the world. Too many chimneys to climb. Too many sherries to gulp down. He sneezed into his cottony white hanky and sighed.
Mrs. Claus settled him by the fire and helped him get his dusty leather boots off his aching feet. By and by, she brought him a steaming-hot pot of tea and a warm cup. “Something to bring you around,” she said with a smile and gave him a gentle hug.
But as you can imagine it wasn’t a pot of English breakfast tea. Oh no. It had honey and lemon and ginger, oh my! More
22 Dec 2015
in food, Holiday foods, recipes, Side dishes
Tags: dough, pierogi, pierogies, red peppers, sweet potatoes
Sweet potato perogies are red inside and out
It’s Christmas time again by golly, ’tis the season to be jolly!
It’s also the season to make our Christmas perogies. This week we got right at it. More
15 Dec 2015
in food, Holiday foods, recipes, Soups
Tags: beets, borscht, Christmas, cucumbers, Ukrainian, yogurt
Borscht at Christmas
Continuing with my holiday plan this year, I bring you again a favorite family recipe we always make at Christmas, in one form or another. Festive, traditional and delicious, here’s the version we made last year, which we’ve christened: Zoë‘s borscht. Merry Christmas, one and all!
01 Dec 2015
in Appetizers, health, Holiday foods, recipes, Snacks
Tags: avoiding sugar, coconut sugar, easy recipes, nuts, pecans, walnuts
Crunchy sweet nuts are great for dressing up salads, cheese platters, and desserts at Christmas and for other special occasions. Plus, they’re easy!
Kids love to make them. Make lots and keep them on hand to use whenever you want some pizzazz. More
24 Nov 2015
in food, health, Holiday foods, recipes, Side dishes, Snacks
Tags: almonds, avoiding sugar, Christmas, cranberries, easy, gourmet, oranges, Stevia, Thanksgiving
An essential, whenever you roast a turkey
This post might at first glance appear a tad, well, boring. There’s no story nor any songs to sing as you cook. All there is, is one simple but tasty and traditional recipe, done up in bows and boasting less sugar and more pizzazz than you get in the canned kinds from the store. This could be a recipe staple for your family’s celebrations. More
17 Nov 2015
in Breakfast foods, food, recipes, Salads
Tags: cheese, eggs, meringues, spinach
Egg clouds crown your salads.
This is an easy and impressive dish if you prepare all your ingredients ahead and save making the eggs till the end.
I saw these clouds while surfing for egg dishes and meringues last week. Then I discovered that Rachael Ray herself had copied my take on this idea (haha).
Although most people might like to serve egg clouds for breakfast, my spin involves crowning a lunch-time salad with them. More
10 Nov 2015
in books, Desserts, Drinks, food, Side dishes
Tags: Fool, fruit, gooseberries, leeks, pudding, roibus, tea, war
Redwall Abbey – A child’s delight
To honor the people who gave their all in the Great Wars, I’m reposting some recipes I first brought to you in 2012. These traditional recipes were in vogue during the scarce years of the Second World War… but many probably go back much farther than that, handed down by mothers and mother’s mothers in Britain ever since they began to grow potatoes and cabbages… and gooseberries! More
03 Nov 2015
in food, health, Main dishes, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, cancer, dairy, meat, meatballs, pork, red meat, turkey, WHO
Traditional cooking, with a healthier outlook
The WHO’s stand on meat
The World Health Organization (WHO) has just sent shock waves through the earth’s stratosphere. What they said was something that anybody who has been following nutrition news in the past few years already knew.
WHO news: Processed meats cause cancer. And red meats probably cause cancer.
But unless you are genetically predisposed to the disease, the increased risk according to most experts is relatively low. Nevertheless, it’s real. More
27 Oct 2015
in Desserts, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes
Tags: eggs, halloween, meringues, nutrition, protein, Stevia, sugar
Here’s another easy recipe for small fingers. Kids learn how to separate eggs. Then they can make up these cute, tasty little Halloween ghosts and marvel at the mysteries of food chemistry.
Use eggs at room temperature for frothiest results. Or put eggs from fridge into warm water for 5 minutes or so to warm them up. More
20 Oct 2015
in Desserts, food, health, recipes, Snacks
Tags: chocolate, easy, hazelnuts, nutella, nutrition, nuts
Low-sugar brownies have a secret ingredient
Kids, get your aprons on. We’re going to whip up some brownies that are as good for the body as they are for the soul. Including time to wash up the dishes, these treats should take no more than a half hour away from your Minecraft play time. More
13 Oct 2015
in Desserts, food, health, Holiday foods, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, avoiding sugar, berries, halloween, nutrition, pie
“That’s scary!” Isla declared, her wide eyes shifting from the cooking pot to the finished product. I knew Halloween had been on her mind, now only a couple of weeks away.
“How so?” I asked. More
06 Oct 2015
in books, Breakfast foods, food, health, recipes
Tags: cheese, easy recipes, eggs, kale, nutrition, onions, Redwall Abbey, tomatoes
Crispy egg ‘N onion hogbake
This recipe, inspired by the Redwall Cookbook for kids, has nothing to do with pigs. For the life of me, I can’t come up with a reason that explains why they named it a hogbake. Perhaps it’s a typo, and they meant to call it a henbake.
Regardless, I loved its simple healthy ingredients. More
22 Sep 2015
in Desserts, food, health, recipes, science, Snacks
Tags: avoiding sugar, diabetes, pancreas, Stevia
Nuts and fruit slow down the release of glucose into the blood.
Sugar’s role in our health
Sugar is Will’s favorite food group.
“Maybe you can cut back on the sugary things, once in a while,” Vinny suggests.
“Sugar is in everything!” Will proclaims. “It gives us energy!”
“That’s true,” Vinny agrees. “What I don’t like, though, is when we add sugar to our food, over and above what nature puts there. Have you heard about your pancreas?” More
15 Sep 2015
in books, Desserts, recipes, science, stories
Tags: chocolate, custard, pears, pies, reviews
A blind orphan threads her way through the streets of Saint Malo at the end of the World War II, with a fresh-baked loaf under her arm. Her name is Marie-Laure and dry bread is all she will have to eat for several days… .
Hidden in the loaf are coordinates destined for the Allied Forces, pin-pointing where the Nazis are headquartered in the town, where their supplies are stored, where their ammunition is kept. Marie-Laure’s uncle radios this vital information across the airwaves on a powerful set hidden in their attic. More
25 Aug 2015
in food, health, recipes, Salads
Tags: dressings, kale, keeping cool, lettuce, shrimps, spices, yogurt
Salad days… wilted in the heat
“I’m wilting,” said Vinny as he plopped down in a lounger under the Japanese lilac. “Ottawa broke a 123-year-old record today when we scored a temperature of 34C.”
Will flapped his shirt, trying in vain to make a breeze for himself. “Ya, I’m WILL-ting, too. It feels like a steam bath out here. Let’s cool off with the hose.”
“Except I’m hungry,” said Vinny. I’m going to whip up a warm salad first, with a little spice to heat it up even more.”
“That sounds crazy,” said Will. “Why would you want to make a warm salad when we’re boiling out here?” More
18 Aug 2015
in Desserts, health, recipes
Tags: British, custard, dried fruit, eggs, fats, shortening, steamed pudding, suet
Vinny’s “skinny” Spotted Puddink
Get the kids together and make a “skinny” version of Spotted Dick, a traditional English steamed pudding. Cook up Harry Potter’s favorite dessert at Hogwarts just in time for the new school year and make some magic happen! More
11 Aug 2015
in Desserts, food, health, Holiday foods, Snacks
Tags: avoiding salt, avoiding sugar, dairy, diet, fats, refined white flour, soda
Added refined sugar makes these treats a no-no for best health
Last time, I introduced you to Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his list of 10 best foods for battling the effects of old age. Now I’m going to show you his list at the other end – Fuhrman’s 10 worst foods… foods that can lead you to an early grave. More
04 Aug 2015
in food, health
Tags: beans, berries, broccoli, diet, fruit, kale, mushrooms, nuts, onions, pomegranates, seeds, spinach, tomatoes, vegetables
Eat more leaves and berries… and onions. And tomatoes!
Eating for a long life
Put these 10 foods on your grocery list every week and you’ll up your chances of living a longer, healthier, happier life! So says Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. More
28 Jul 2015
in Drinks, food, health, recipes
Tags: anxiety, depression, digestion, headache, lavender, lemons, Stevia
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly
I’ll be your king dilly dilly
If you’ll be my queen…
Relax with lavender and this pretty little song from England, dating back at least 300 years. Originally this ditty was not for kids. Early words made it more a bawdy or drinking song for the purposes of wooing a lady into bed. More
21 Jul 2015
in food, health, recipes, science
Tags: antiinflammatories, antioxidants, berries, cancer, garlic, tea, tomatoes, walnuts
Foods that are known cancer fighters
Berries, walnuts, garlic, tomatoes and tea. What do they have in common? They are all proven cancer fighters!
They work best as members of a team. For best health, join them up on your plate with other battle-scarred food heroes of the likes that are cited in this valuable article from the American Institute for Cancer Research.
15 Jul 2015
in food, health, science
Tags: canola, corn, rice, soybeans, tomatoes
“The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fear-mongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling GMOs will not make you safer.”
As an ex-food scientist, I’m convinced of the safety of GMO foods. You will be too, if you can wade through this excellent, but very long article. More
03 Jul 2015
in food, Holiday foods, Main dishes, recipes
Tags: barbecue, Canada Day, chicken, mustard, sandwich
For 23 years now, Ottawa has been serving up a chicken sandwich on the Hill to hungry Canadians who want a freshly barbecued healthy snack to get them through the day’s festivities. This year’s version features an herb-infused honey-Dijon sauce to take it to the next level. More
24 Jun 2015
Vitamin B12 is high in eggs, fish, shellfish and red meat, and low-fat dairy, among other good things. A varied diet is always a good thing🙂. I didn’t know about watching out for too much iron…
Cooking with Kathy Man
Enlarge image . . . . .
“Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a natural part of aging,” notes lead author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “By staying active and moving plant-based foods to the center of our plates, we have a fair shot at rewriting our genetic code for this heart-wrenching , and costly, disease.”
Alzheimer’s Disease International predicts Alzheimer’s rates will triple worldwide by 2050. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts long-term care costs start at $41,000 per year.
The seven guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease are:
Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
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22 Jun 2015
Low-fat dairy makes good eating for most healthy people, no matter how old you are. Vinny thinks so, and so does this update from Kathy Man. More milk, please!
Cooking with Kathy Man
Calcium is important even when you’re older, and milk can be a fine way to get it.
Have you sworn off dairy? Maybe you think it will ease your stomach woes. Or, now that you’re middle-aged, you assume your bones don’t need as much. Or maybe you’re just drawn to all the dairy-free options now on supermarket shelves, including dairy-free ice cream, yogurt, and coffee creamer. Should you join the crowd? Probably not. “Unless you have a medical reason to skip dairy, such as an allergy to milk protein, adults can benefit by eating some dairy every day,” says Consumer Reports chief medical adviser Marvin M. Lipman, M.D.
Here we take a look at some common myths about milk and other dairy products.
Myth 1: After age 30 you don’t need calcium for your bones
It’s true that you reach peak bone mass by age 30, so getting calcium before…
View original post 636 more words