“Eat more leaves,” says Pollan

Reviewing Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food”

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Michael Pollan has distilled much of the research  into the Western diet over recent years into this simple formula. It’s that easy to eat well for better health.

More

Battling Alzheimer’s Disease – Part 2: Choose Mood Foods

The foods you choose affect your mood. And what is mood but your brain’s reactions to the world around you. Vinny’s yogurt bowl is a treat filled with probiotics and flavenoids to calm your brain and keep it firing on all cylinders.

More

Battling Alzheimer’s Disease: Part 1 – Fuelling exercise

Fend off those “senior moments”

Vinny’s grandparents have told him that living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia is one of the scarier prospects of growing older. So he has decided to do a series of posts about some lifestyle choices that could make a positive difference to our mental health in later years. He’s all for starting these habits early, for a longer and more active life. Read on for his first installment.

More

Fight stroke with magnesium

Vinny’s grandparents are getting on, so nobody will blame them if they are starting to look a little worn around the edges. Relying on fast food and maybe even cigarettes over the years to make life easy could be part of the problem. With these sorts of habits, Vinny worried that his family could be setting itself up for medical catastrophes… stroke for example. Holy smokes! Is there anything we can do to help?

More

Lemon-drizzle cake sweetens the mood

lemon drizzle cake

Getting in the groceries

Here we are in the midst of week 6 of self isolation. What began as an adventure is turning into a drudge. Solace comes in knowing that in comparison to other world disasters people have had to face, this one is fairly tame… as long as you can dodge  COVID-19, that is. Plus, we can use the extra time at home to experiment in the kitchen! More

Baked cheese and eggs dish

Easter egg bake

This delicious egg cassarole is easier than a quiche and twice as tasty. It sometimes goes by the name “Strata”, probably because it is a layered approach to eggy goodness. But as Shakespeare once noted, “a rose by any other name is just as sweet.” More

Quarantined chocolate soufflés

chocolate souffle - presentation (serving)

Have you ever craved a silky soufflé but hesitated to try? I certainly have. The eggy concoction seemed too finicky and prone to failure. Also, I thought it had to be baked at the last minute. So how would it ever work as a make-ahead dessert for company?

Well, with all the time in the world available these days for experimenting, and as the corona virus pandemic is demanding that no company cross our threshold, this seemed the perfect time to try. More

Mood-boosting banana and oatmeal cookies

banana and oatmal cookies

Is your family is feeling a little low what with all this social distancing we are having to endure for the public good these days? Cheer them up with  a batch of hearty banana cookies.  So easy! With just two key ingredients and a few optional add-ons for extra flavor and happiness, these cookies are sure to please your family. More

Chocolatey low-sugar brownies

DSCN9892_edited

Chill out, everybody!

If you are looking for a low-sugar double-chocolate brownie that your children will devour, look no further. Each moist chocolatey square satisfies with two kinds of chocolate. The squares are sweetened with only 1/4 cup maple syrup and the sugar from the semisweet chocolate chips, plus one secret ingredient. No, it’s not marijuana. More

A Princess Elizabeth cake to honor Ondaatje’s novel ‘Warlight’

.

 

Books, friends, and food – a recipe for a pleasant afternoon

Having volunteered to host our bookclub this week with only a few days notice, Vinny and I decided to make a cake we had attempted once before for Canada Day. It was a recipe that Queen Elizabeth had popularized immediately after the Second World War. Food was being rationed in Britain and there was little sugar to spare. At that time Elizabeth was still a princess, not yet 20. She wanted to do her part for the war effort and, as one of her many projects, she came up with a cake that was sweetened not with sugar but with dates and honey. More

Carpathian Kasha with Browned Onions and Walnuts

Buckwheat kasha

Carpathian kasha – Vinny made this nutty gluten-free side dish for an Eastern European themed dinner party, with a shout out to Dracula. More

Banana squash is economical as well as tasty

Banana squash - a winter squash

An unusal giant winter squash

On a beautiful family farm near Silver Lake Provincial Park (Ontario), where my parents used to take my sister and I to camp every weekend during the summer, I discovered an intriguingly large vegetable new to me. It goes by the name banana squash. More

Toasting nuts

Nuts

To get the most from your nuts, toasting is the way to go. How does that work? More

Home-made Pie Crust Recipe

Chocolate pear pie-building the pie
Home-made pie shell, ready to fill.

This is a standard pie crust recipe. But I have never made a pie crust in my life. So I decided to start with an easy, classic recipe and see where it takes me. Here it goes.

More

Bruno’s Truffle Omelette

 

Truffle omelet a la Bruno

Vinny loves all things “eggs,” but a morning omelet is one of his favorites. So when he found a recipe for a truffle omelet from Bruno, Chief of Police of the fictional village of St. Denis in the heart of the Dordogne in France, Vinny couldn’t resist. More

Fat-burning bedtime soother

Moon at halloween

What if we could lose weight while we sleep…

That idea sounds almost miraculous. But it might just be possible. Here’s the theory.

At night, our body burns the fat we have accumulated during the day. We can speed up that process while we sleep by stimulating the digestive system and increasing our metabolism. Drinking in some of nature’s stronger metabolism boosters can prod our digestion system to be more efficient. More

Mini cheesecakes with stevia

Minni cheese cakes with stevia

Try our homemade liquid stevia solution to make these sweet little cheesecakes and you might become hooked on stevia forever. The cakes are moist, creamy, and flavorful. But most of all, without adding any sugar at all to the cheese filling, they taste sweet and tangy. More

A Kid’s Favorite Crab Spread

crabking_edited

Alaskan king crab – a true giant

Crab is a mild-tasting shellfish that most people like, even the kids. It is low in fat, containing only  82 calories in a 3-ounce serving, while supplying a third of your daily protein needs. Crab is a brain food, More

Chocolate oatmeal and nut cookies for stuffing hollow Easter egg-shells

DSCN9832

Vinny wanted to make an Easter treat he could use to fill the pretty hollow Easter egg-shells he found at the dollar store. “I’d like something without any chemical additives, but sweet and chocolatey, and filled with fiber and nutrients that make eating them as good for a kid’s health as they are sweet on the tongue,” he said. More

Hurricanes Kick Off Mardi Gras Party

 

mardigras

Vinny seems to have abandoned his post in the past months. This has meant a noticeable dearth on this site of healthy but delicious recipes for growing families. In his wake, there is only… me.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras recipes were featured in my most recent cooking class in the run-up to Lent. I served some of what we learned at our annual gourmet evening, celebrating Mardi Gras style. I think Vinny would approve, though. Cajun cooking in New Orleans is rife with fresh seafood, hot spices, garlic, and a wild array of fresh veggies. Chicken is also an option. More

All-flavors bread

Every-flavor bread, halloween candy

Vinny’s come up with a yummy way to use left-over Halloween candy that helps keep sugar spikes at bay. We’re borrowing from Harry Potter, Bertie Botts in particular, to create a treat that offers a surprise in every bite. More

Pumpkin pie punch

Pumpkin Pie Punch - rum julip

Try this delicious glassful of nutrition with your little tricksters on Halloween this year. It’s a treat that can’t be beat!

Instead of adding sugar, I use stevia in the whipped cream topping, a natural no-calorie sweetener that won’t add a single gram to your little one’s sugar load this Halloween season. More

Maple glazed sweet potato dish

Maple crusted sweet potato dish

Sadly, I haven’t had much time of late to devote to my blog. But as Vinny loves sweet potatoes for their healthy goodness, I thought I’d share this simple recipe that I’m serving tonight in honor of our Canadian Thanksgiving… More

Chocolate raspberry birthday cake

DSCN9774_edited-copy

Our traditional family birthday cake is chalk-full of chocolate. But thrown in are other flavors like raspberry and coffee that make it a hit with young and old alike. I use healthy ingredients besides chocolate, like coconut palm sugar, coconut oil and eggs. More

Your key to using Stevia

earl grey tea(bag) cookies

Why stevia?

If you love sweets, this natural, no-cal sweetener from the leaf of the stevia plant is incredibly good for you. Unlike sugar, it doesn’t create an insulin response. Whereas sugar damages your pancreas, the organ that regulates blood sugar, stevia’s sterols and antioxidants actually nourish this essential organ. More

Banana ice cream desserts two ways

Strawberry banana ice cream

A nutritional bonanza from our friendly banana

This dessert is so good, people call it Nice Cream. The riper the banana, the sweeter the dessert.

Ripe bananas also have higher levels of antioxidants, which as any frequent reader of Vinny’s blog will know, fight chronic disease and inflammation.

One interesting thing about fully ripened bananas is that they also produce a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).  TNF combats abnormal cells to help shrink cancer tumors.  The more dark patches a banana has, More

French toast sandwiches

Serving and eating French toast sandwiches

March madness!!!

March in Ontario has us all looking forward to spring. And along with that comes a welcome school break – a whole week of free time!

Let’s help Mom and Dad survive March madness by getting creative. We’ll make them lunch!

Start with a loaf of fresh whole-grain bread. Add eggs, low-fat milk and some nice seasonings. Then fill with fruit or low-sugar jams,  and cheese or nut butter. More

Oregano tea is good for what ails you

 

origanum_aureum

Oregano grows like crazy in my garden. I use it as an ornamental ground cover. Then I discovered you can make a tea from it that is useful in curing sore, bothersome throats. Since that is what I have, I’ve given this drink a shot. I love herbal teas and this is a pleasant one. Only time will tell as to whether it heals my sore throat. More

New recipe for a delicious miso soup

Miso soup

Readers will know how much I’ve been struggling with miso. It’s been a challenge finding flavor combinations that compliment a miso soup base and are both healthy and delicious. But I think I’ve now got something that works for me. The health benefits of miso are worth the effort. Maybe you should give this a try? More

Apple Brown Betty Cake

Apple Brown Betty

Vinny suspected something was amiss when he began to smell a decidedly strong odor of apples, wafting from the cupboard whenever he opened the door. He pulled out his brand new bag of apples for inspection. Alas, three of the apples were  already beginning to, well, rot. Out they went into the compost. But what to do with all the rest? More

Making miso soup tastier

Miso soup

Another attempt at creating a delicious miso soup

Vinny and I have a lot in common. I’ve heard that kids often need to taste a food 10 times before they learn to like it. That’s me to a T with miso. More

Easy miso soup

Miso's Christmas toy

Miso’s Christmas toy

“Here, Miso,” called Vinny, holding out his hand to his fluffy caramel kitten, who gladly came over for a gentle rub behind the ears.

“Why did you call him Miso,” Isla asked as she threw a small toy mouse for the kitten to chase.

“I suppose it was because I like Asian food,” said Vinny, “and this little guy is the exact same color as miso, a food used in Asian cooking. More

Cook Up A Story for the Holidays

Cook Up A Story - craft fair

I enjoyed participating in a few holiday craft sales this year, showing off my book Cook Up A Story. I met many wonderful people who bought up most of my stock and all of my aprons and chef hats.

I only have a few copies left. In Canadian dollars I can offer a better price than that at the Blurb Book store, which quotes American dollars. Because of the current exchange rate,  Canadian prices are lower than those quoted on Blurb Bookstore on-line. And conversely prices are 33% lower yet if you are paying in US dollars. As of Dec 17, I’m down to my last three copies: More

Easy peanut butter cookies

Will makes peanut butter cookies - just 3 ingredients

Recipes from labels

Vinny and I had the greatest time at the cottage this summer. One of the things we did was experiment with recipes on the labels of foods we brought with us.

“Let’s try peanut butter cookies,” said Will, studying the label on the jar of one of his favorite foods. “There’s only three ingredients. And we have them all!” More

Holiday Open House, Sun Nov 27, 1-4pm

IMG_9356

‘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. More

Five foods to cure a sore throat

dscn9726_edited

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. More

Copper penny cooked carrot salad

Carrots

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. More

Dorothy’s amazing tomato salad

tomato

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. More

Moroccan chicken stew

moroccan-chicken2

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

Yoda soda summer punch bowl

Punch bowl

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.

Vinny’s on Yum Goggle

Ile de Re: Fish market

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

Healthier Happy Birthday cake-pie

Chocolate cream pie with figs

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. More

Rhubarb and Ginger Fool for April 1st

jp_april_fools_840x473

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.

More

Vinegar, a great recipe for daily life

carafe 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

Live it up with spicy ancho shrimp salad

Spice medley

Spice up your good health

I like to post on Tuesdays but this Tuesday I had nothing… nothing except a wonderful spice rub I put together on the weekend. It smokes! But I promise you, it doesn’t burn. More

Celebrate Pi day with this easy chocolate cake — only 3.14-ingredients

Pi day cake

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

Watermelon cheers us up with coolers and salads

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

Watermelon pepo

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.

Watermelon

Eat plain

Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.

Watermelon salad

 

Watermelon salad
Serves one

  • 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
  1. Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Drizzle them with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or vodka. Let them soak it up for a few minutes.
  3. Use them to top a plateful of greens, kale in my photo, which I drizzled with  avocado oil and massaged well.
  4. Top with crumbled feta cheese or, my favorite, goat cheese.

 

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Vinny’s pink watermelon cooler
Serves four

  • 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
  1. Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.

Watermelon

Watermelon

When the winter blahs get you down, break out some watermelon and smile :).

 

 

 

Heart-smart sweet potato pancakes for your valentine

 Luv U... B mine?

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).

sweet potato pancakes

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)
  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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.

 

Sweet potato

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!”

Whipped goat cream, a tart cheese treat

Whipped goat cheese

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? More

Butternut Squash dressed in Ricotta

butternut_squash_carving_by_evilninjachris-d5dytsk1

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.
More

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: