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

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

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

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 :).

 

 

 

Crab dip is tops in sustainable fish dishes

Crab is a safe bet

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

Cloud eggs send salads to seventh heaven

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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

Wilted warm seafood salad

Salad days... wilted in the heat

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

Stop, Thief! Leafless Mango Salad with Ginger and Garlic Dressing

Mango salad

“I love mangoes,” Isla said one day. “Can we grow some?”

Vinny sighed. “Not here in Canada, kiddo. Mango trees thrive in India, where people call mangoes the Food of the Gods. Mango trees live long and prosper there. Some specimens are over 300 years old and still going strong.”

Isla put on her sad face. More

My mandolin’s iceberg salad, starring kohlrabi…

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Mystery veggie

Kohlrabi – Huh? My picky eater surprised me the other day. Will’s vegetarian school buddy had given him a taste of this odd veggie and it turned out to be a hit! I had to look it up. More

Adela’s Bird of Paradise

Remembering Adela - the hostess with the mostest!

Remembering Adela – the hostess with the mostest! 1963

Vinny’s Grandma Adela loved a dramatic presentation. She had inherited her own dad’s artistic temperament. Great granddad William Enge was a master woodworker, making violins as well as decorative furniture. He played the violin so beautifully, his music made a woman 20 years his junior fall in love with him.

Adela too had musical ability, singing in the choir at church, as well as for the Ottawa Opera Company.  Like him, she had an eye for color and fashion, designing and sewing her own clothes and much of the clothing for her family. She also built or refinished many pieces of furniture for her home, following in her dad’s footsteps. Knitting, sewing, carpentry, painting—nothing was too difficult for her to try her hand at.

But Adela was at her best in the kitchen. She kept an extensive recipe collection. And, like an early Martha Stewart, Adela was known to set an elegant table. More

Jack Spratt’s breakfast beets

beets and eggs for breakfast

“Oww. Yikes! Moan…” said Jack, clutching the source of his agony with greasy hands… his bloated belly.

“Hey, Man,” said a worried Vinny. “What in heck did you eat this time, to cause all this grief?”

“All I had was a bite of Mama’s fish and chips. You know I don’t usually eat fried stuff, Vinny. But Mama’s fish and chips? I just couldn’t turn that down, and…” Just then another cramp hit, sending Jack into spasms of pain.

More

How Olive Oyl and Popeye became an item

Olive Oyl is heart friendly

Olive Oyl is heart friendly

Olive Oyl, a popular comic strip character of the 1920s, is named after olive oil… a healthy choice for vinaigrettes. Early newspapers  also featured  Olive’s brother, Castor Oyl, and his wife, Cylinda Oyl… as well as my personal favorite, the intrepid explorer Lubry Kent Oyl.

Lubry Kent’s gift to Castor and Olive led them into the adventure where they met Popeye, the sailor man. As it turned out, Popeye was mad for spinach. And the perfect match for spinach is none other than the lovely Olive Oyl!

But why did Olive Oyl’s creators choose spinach as Popeye’s passion?  It all hinged on one little mistake, a mistake that launched the first modern super-food. More

Getting in the groceries that send cancer packing

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The magic word is SALADS

According to Dr. Li, we can start today, keeping cancer at bay. Just eat more foods  that slow the growth of blood vessels.

While we’re stuffing our faces with these healthy foods, we’re starving cancer-cell invaders in their tracks.

The foods that do the job aren’t mysterious mumbo jumbo harvested at the ends of the earth. More

The little cream dressing that could. . . . . . . It even makes kale taste great!

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Creamy Mediterranean-style dressing

Kale has a problem

The big problem with kale is it’s just too good-for-you to be truly loved, except by a few die-hard health nuts.

Some of you may think I’m one of those crazy people who will eat any vile substance as long as somebody says it will banish love handles… or wrinkles… or some life-threatening disease.

Well, yes and no. If there really was a magic potion that would do those things for me safely, I’d be at the head of the table. More

Lego salads

Lego salad!

Lego salad tower!

I used to find salads a chore – so much washing, peeling, and chopping. All that, only to end up with tasteless, watery, food suitable only for hamsters.

But then I discovered Lego salads.

Remember Emmet, from the Lego Movie? When he sings, “Everything is awesome when you’re part of a team,” it hit me: What is salad if not a well-oiled team? More

Vinny Grette’s best vinaigrettes

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Beet and apple vinaigrette. Full of fight-o-nutrients!

Will waved his grandpa’s cane in front of him, as if he were fending off a stampeding herd of dinosaurs. “Fight-O-nutrients!” he roared, charging across the room. “I need some for lunch, please, Vinny?”

I braced for a high five, as Will raced back toward me, his free hand raised, his sword hand busy. “Gotta keep my energy up!”

No problemo,” I said. “It’s summer time and the livin’-healthy thing is easy. Just eat lots of bright veggies and fruits, and phytonutrients are yours for the taking. These are salad days!”

“Salads are boring. And I hate veggies,” moaned Will. “Isn’t there something else?” More

Jeremy’s take on kale

Boiled dressing = easy and delicious!

Kale with pears, pomegranate and boiled dressing = easy and delicious!

I’ve been busy with family in the midst of a big move and exotic holidays. So Vinny has been on sabbatical!

But I saw this cute cartoon on Kathy Man’s blog the other day and Jeremy made me laugh. Maybe you’ll like it too :).

 

kale cartoon849

 

Jeremy might even prompt you to have a look at Vinny’s earlier posts on kale. More

Make sardines taste good and boost your memory

No added salt - just wild Canadian sardines and water.

No added salt – just wild Canadian sardines and water.

More on the omega-3s…

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

Walnuts raw: Crunchy party salad comes packed with nutrition

walnut

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

Continuing with walnuts…

Walnuts raw (see Verse 4 in my previous post) not only develop the jaw, they also strengthen teeth as well as bones in your whole body.

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

Miss Macadamia takes the crown! Fats demystified

Macadamia wears the crown

Macadamia is the sweetheart of Hawaii.

Verse 3

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

The queen of nuts…

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

An ode to almonds, plus grilled pineapple

Almond blossoms

Almond tree in bloom

Almonds are so super good for you, they deserve an ode. One well-known nursery rhyme featured a nut tree that bore nothing… except silver and gold that is, which, as everyone knows, taste awful.

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

Watermelon cooler… It’s the berries!

Watermelon fizz cocktail

Cool off with fizzy watermelon

Click  for an up-dated version, with more photos and a new recipe.

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. Click the link for the latest info. More

Using pomegranates in drinks and salads

Rita Borger - pomegranate

Last time, I told you about the powerful benefits offered by the lovely Pomegranate.

Here I focus on how to use this wonderful fruit. First and foremost,  let’s see how to get past the blushing hard skin to the juicy seeds, or arils, inside. More

Warm mushroom salad works majic for the Faerie Queene

Blue oyster mushrooms weave a safety net for your heart

Blue oyster mushrooms weave a safety net for your heart

Story time – The blue-haired one’s majic cure

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

Avocado & Comice… a Great Pair of Pears

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The Avocado and the Pear

Story time

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

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

Hummus is Pretty in Pink

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Awhile back, we roasted  up some tasty garbanzo beans to zap our good health with fiber and minerals. That bland little bean, which is part of the legume family… comes into its own, though, in the near Eastern dish known as hummus.

Let me introduce you to the Cinderella of the hummus crowd, a beet and garbanzo duo that knocks your slippers off! More

Quinoa Goes to a Party

Quinoa is the star of this dish, packed with the power of a whole crowd of superfoods… rock on!

We’re going to a party, and I offered to bring along something for the table. The request: a quinoa salad. “Quin-wha?” I asked. More

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater

Butternut squash salad… ready, set, GO!

Hey, kids, have you ever dreamed about flying on a carpet to far-away lands, where you find yourself gorging on colorful fruits and veggies you’ve never tasted before? Well… you can do more than dream. More

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