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 :).

 

 

 

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?

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.

Whipped goat cheese

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
  1. Combine goat cheese, yogurt, sweetener,  lemon juice and zest into a bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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 cheese

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 cheese

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.

Nutrition

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.

 

Pear and leek bake

Pear and leek bake (crustless quiche)

A crustless quiche with a difference

Vinny’s blogged about pearsleeks, 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

Fire cracker day!

Fire-Cracker Day!

Fire-Cracker Day!

The 24th of May is the Queen’s birthday.
If we don’t get a holiday, we’ll all run away!

It turns out we do get a holiday, but which queen, exactly, would that be, here in Canada?

Why it’s Queen Victoria, of course, the reigning monarch in 1867 when Canada became a country. Victoria was also key in choosing Ottawa over Kingston, Toronto or Montreal as Canada’s capital. So we Ottawans think she deserves a little fireworks on her birthday.

The weather is always a bit iffy on the Victoria Day long weekend in Ottawa, though. So fireworks are not always a possibility. But we can always whip up something special for the birthday table to honor the old queen, regardless of the weather! More

Ms. Manners makes easy work of cheaters’ lemony cheese cake

Cheat on your diet with this lo-sugar lemony cheese cake!

Cheat on your diet with this lo-sugar lemony cheese cake!

“That Mr. Crank is such a witch,” complained Vinny, about his neighbor. “He spends his days dreaming up ways to make my life miserable.” More

Goats-Gruff cheese cake and cranberry snow

Goat's milk makes great cheese!

Goat’s milk makes great cheese!

Why goat cheese?

Goat cheese is my go-to cheese on a daily basis. I love it because of its creamy texture and crisp, tart taste. It’s perfect in my omelets and on top of my leafy greens at lunch.

But it’s also packed with great nutrition. When it comes to fat and calories, goat cheese has the advantage over cheese made from cow’s milk. More

Crown the meal with savory pear taquitos

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Sweet!

If apples were pears
And peaches were plums
And chevre had a different name
If sugar was  ne’er
And cognac was rum
I’d love you just the same

Here it is, folks… a fabulous dessert filled with protein, vitamins and minerals and topped off with great taste… the finale of our Mediterranean small plates evening. It’s surprisingly easy, too.

I made the little rolls a couple of days ahead and froze them on a baking sheet. On party day, they went straight from the freezer into my preheated oven at dessert time, and in a few minutes they were ready to plate. More

Look who’s on first: Avocado Crostini

Avocado crostini

Green is clean

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

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

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

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

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

Escargots and chocolate milk

Bon Appétit !

Escargot, if you don’t already know this, boys and girls, is French for snail. Many of the best restaurants offer escargots on their menus. They’re delicious!

I know one little girl who ordered escargots whenever she had a chance, which was most often when we were traveling in Quebec or France. She liked her snails with lots of garlic butter, washed down with chocolate milk. Servers shook their heads in wonder when she placed her order. More

Jubilation! A royal cake for Canada Day

Oh, Canada!

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

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

Then I made a wonderful discovery. More

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