Sunday, November 29, 2009


During the past several months I have bought two books by Dr. Joey Shulman.  She is a Canadian nutritionist and has written a number of books.  The books I have are: "the last 15 - A Weight-Loss Breakthrough" and "Healthy Sin Foods".   Dr. Shulman provides great recipes in both books and I will provide some of these recipes in upcoming postings.

The book entitled 'the last 15" is about re-setting your metabolism, learning to control the sugar cravings and night time eating.  Her suggestions and approach to improving one's eating habits are sensible.    Dr. Shulman devotes chapters to carbohydrates, proteins and fats and the information provided is useful, interesting and easy to understand.  Her program is not about denying your enjoyment of food but learning to operate within boundaries.

The second book, "Healthy Sin Foods" describes how certain foods regulate your hormones which are involved with balancing cravings, controlling blood sugar, mood and body weight.  The book also profiles a group of foods that Dr. Shulman describes as the top 50 superfoods.  They are whole foods that have not been processed, refined or preserved.   Detail is provided on each food including nutritional breakdown, selection and storage, preparation, background information and recipe ideas.  Examples of some of the 50 superfoods include almonds, apples, apricot, avocados, black beans, black cod, blueberries, chickpeas, garlic, olives and olive oil.   Did you know that raw garlic juice was used as an antimicrobial field dressing in the trenches during World War 1?

If you are looking for an interesting read, some tools to improve your eating habits and motivational tips, I would recommend these two books.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I like using wheat germ for baking or adding to cooked cereals.  I store it in the freezer so I don't have to worry about it getting old and potentially rancid, especially if a long time goes by without me using it.  What is so good about wheat germ?  It contains a phytonutrient, octacosanol, that helps to increase physical endurance and improve the body's ability to handle stress.  Wheat germ contains folic acid, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin E.   

I made these muffins using wheat germ and apricots.  You can always substitute another dry fruit for the apricots.  You can also decrease the caloric content of these muffins by using splenda instead of sugar,  apple sauce instead of oil, and egg whites instead of whole eggs.  This recipe is adapted from

3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice, divided
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk, (see Tip)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°F.   Use muffin cups or coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Combine apricots and 1/4 cup orange juice in a small bowl. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on High for 1 minute. (Alternatively, bring to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat.) Set aside to plump.   Mix whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, orange zest, vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup orange juice. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Add the plumped apricots and juice and mix just until blended. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake the muffins until lightly browned and the tops spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes.  Recipe makes one dozen muffins.

Tip:  If you don’t have buttermilk  you can make “sour milk”: the ratio is 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.


This past weekend I made an artisan bread with raisins.  In an earlier posting this summer I provided a recipe from Bonnie Stern.  Here is a picture of the loaf I made this weekend.  Of course it turned out wonderful.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


When cooking supper I usually cover three food groups - protein, carbs and vegetables.  Last night for supper I cooked a beef roast and a butternut squash in the oven and made a tossed salad to have as an appetizer.

I am a firm believer that not all beef roasts are created equal, some stores are better than others in the quality of the meat they sell and you get what you pay for.   I have bought sides of beef directly from a beef producer.  I like buying meat directly from the producer as you are supporting producers within the province, they will tell you how the animal was raised, what it was fed and you can have it packaged according to portion size.  Besides buying beef from producers, I have bought bison (still have some in the freezer), roast chickens and lamb.   There are a few butcher stores in my city and several grocery stores where I will buy meat.  There are some stores that I won't buy from as I think the quality of the meat is not as good.

One store I like to buy meat and fish from is Costco.  I like the quality of the products they carry.   When at the meat counter, there is always the decision on how much do I want to spend - what sort of roast do I want and how big.  I have been buying top premium sirloin oven roasts from Costco and they are worth the extra bit of money as compared to a regular sirloin roast.  The meat is more tender, easier to carve and flavourful.  Last night I made a top premium roast and I was not disappointed.  This roast does not require marinating.  Before it goes into the oven I spread dijon mustard all over the roast and sprinkle dried onion flakes.  I cook the roast until it is medium or a bit medium rare in the middle.

One way I like to cook butternut or other winter squash is the following.  Peel the squash, cut into cubes or small chunks, remove the seeds and place the cubes into a mixing bowl.  Add some olive oil and maple syrup to the squash.  Mix well and place onto a cookie sheet.  I use a non-stick cookie sheet.  Put in the oven for the last half hour with the roast.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The ingredients that go into making this carrot sweet potato soup include some of my favorite vegetables - carrots, sweet potatoes and parsnips.   The recipe is high in fiber and low in fat.  The addition of ginger and dill at the end adds to the flavour.   I made enough soup to last the week for lunches.  Both myself and the DH enjoyed this soup and I will definitely make it again.  If you don't have sweet potato, using regular potato would be an alternative.  The soup will also taste fine if you don't have parsnips in your fridge.



1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 or 9 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
8 cups of water
4 tsp chicken bouillon powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp dried dill or 2 tbsp fresh dill
¼ to ½ tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic and celery until golden.    Add the rest of the vegetables, water and bouillon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.   Puree the soup.  Add dill, ginger, salt and pepper.  Yields 8 to 10 servings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I never find it hard to rationalize that chocolate should be a frequent indulgence.  Two recent articles that I read give support to daily consumption of dark chocolate.   When I read these two articles on the health benefits of dark chocolate, I wondered about how hard it must have been to find volunteers.  Can you imagine, being forced to eat between one to three ounces of chocolate!  This must have been a hard research project to conduct.

The first study (Science Daily November 12, 2009) found that eating dark chocolate helps ease emotional stress.  Eating an ounce and a half of dark chocolate on a daily basis for two weeks reduced the levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.  The chocolate also affected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.  So that may be why you feel better after eating a piece of chocolate.  The second research project (Science Daily December 23, 2008) found that dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate and lessens our cravings for sweet, salt or fatty foods.  Dark chocolate provides more satisfaction than milk chocolate.   When the 16 young and healthy male volunteers ate three ounces of dark chocolate 2.5 hours before being offered pizza and were instructed to eat pizza until they felt "satiated", those that ate the chocolate consumed less calories (15 percent) than those that did not eat the chocolate beforehand.   They stated that eating chocolate made them feel that they wanted to eat less sweet, salty or fatty food.   If I want to be a bit cheeky, I could connect some dots and say that during the upcoming holiday season, one should eat some dark chocolate instead of a salad and what fun this change would be.... before leaving your home to attend parties that are offering all sorts of food.  Eating chocolate beforehand may help you reduce your consumption of salty, sweet or fatty foods.   After this discussion on chocolate, I must go now and find in my pantry, a piece of dark chocolate with almonds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Years ago I never thought I would use a slow cooker.   I changed my mind several years ago after talking about recipes with some friends.  I bought a slow cooker and have used it for a variety of recipes.  It is a rather convenient way to cook if you are gone all day and want to come home to a meal already prepared and cooked.   It is also a good way to cook food that requires slow cooking and allows for the flavours to be slowly blended.  Certain meats cooked in a slow cooker are more tastier than regular cooking methods on the stove or in the oven.   Today I plan to cook several things and these recipes will be posted in due time.  One recipe already on the go is chili.   Using the slow cooker today will allow me to multi-task including laundry, watching two CFL games and cooking other recipes.  The picture I have taken is just at the start of the slow cooking process.  I used bison instead of beef in this recipe.  All of the ingredients have been added and in 7 hours the chili will be ready.  If you find there is too much liquid in the chili, add 1/3 cup of cornmeal during the last hour of cooking.



2 lbs lean beef or bison hamburger
1 onion chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 green or red pepper chopped
1 large can of tomatoes or 6 to 8 frozen tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
1 large can (19 oz) of red kidney beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 chopped/minced garlic clove
salt and pepper to taste


Brown hamburger meat in a frying pan.  Once browned, drain any excess liquid and add to the slow cooker pot.  Add all of the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 7 to 8 hours.  Adjust seasonings to taste during the cooking process. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009


One of the holiday traditions I like at Christmas time is mincemeat.   I know a number of wonderful bakers who make all kinds of tarts, fruitcakes and squares at Christmas.  There will be raisin tarts; butter tarts; cherry tarts; squares with chocolates, nuts, cherries, coconut or dates; and fudge.  What catches my attention is mincemeat.  I really like mincemeat and will choose that over most other Christmas sweets.  I am not a big fan of store bought mincemeat as once you eat homemade mincemeat you can't go back.  Last Christmas I tasted a wonderful mincemeat pie made by a cousin of a good friend of mine.   I had to ask for the recipe.  It doesn't contain any suet and is just dried fruit; sugar; syrup; apples; orange, lemon and apple juices and spices.   I liked that this recipe doesn't contain any suet as it will be lower in fat and calories.  The recipe should be made in mid November so that it can cure over the 6 weeks before Christmas.  The following recipe can be halved if you want a smaller amount.  I made this recipe this afternoon and it is quick to make.  The longest step was peeling, coring and chopping the apples.



3 lbs raisins
1 lb currants
1 lb mixed peel
6 to 8 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 3 oranges
½ cup golden syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 litre carton of apple juice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mace
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves


In a large bowl, mix everything together except the apple juice.   Divide the mixture between two large ice cream pails.   Add ½ the carton of apple juice to each pail.  The apple juice should just come about up to the top of the mixture.   Place lids on the pails.  Leave on the counter for a few days to allow the mixture to start to ferment.  After a few days, put the pails in the fridge until Christmas.  What is not used at Christmas time can be frozen. 

You can cut this recipe in half which will make about 2 to 3 pies (not deep dish pies).  When making a pie, add about 4 dollops of butter on top of the unbaked piecrust before placing the mincemeat in the pie shell.  This mincemeat recipe should be made in mid November.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


In an earlier posting I wrote about non-knead bread and provided a recipe.   The non-knead bread is a great way to make bread and requires less work than the traditional bread that involves kneading.  Today I decided to make bread that requires kneading and more ingredients than the non-knead bread.  I have a bosch food processor with a dough paddle and I also have other attachments for this great kitchen tool.   You can use the old fashioned way and knead the bread with your hands.   This recipe calls for dough enhancer.  Dough enhancer accelerates the rising process and is basically ascorbic acid (vitamin c).  You can usually find dough enhancer at speciality stores that sell bulk baking and other food item.



1 ¼ cup ground flaxseed
1 cup oatmeal
5 cups whole wheat flour
7 cups white flour
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp dough enhancer
½ cup skim milk powder
5 cups warm water
4 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 ½ tsp yeast


Combine water, honey and yeast in a bowl.  Let it sit for 3 to 4 minutes.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients.  Knead well and if using a food processor with a bread paddle, knead on low speed for 7 minutes.  

Remove bread paddle from the bowl, cover bowl with saran wrap and a tea towel and let rise for an hour.   

Depending on the size of your loaf pans, divide the bread dough into three or four portions, knead a few times on a floured surface and place into loaf pans.   To not have the dough stick to your hands while handling it, rub your hands with vegetable oil.  Let rise in the pans for about an hour.  Cover pans with a tea towel while dough is rising.  Bake loaves at 350 degrees F for 40 to 45 minutes.  While in the oven, you can spray the loaves with water.  The spray creates a little steam in the oven and helps give the bread a crustier taste.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I have always been a breakfast eater.  I know that some people can't look at food until at least mid morning and others just want their morning coffee and can go until lunchtime before having anything that can be called food.   I think what is one of the deciding factors is how long you are up before eating breakfast and if you had a late night snack before going to bed.   If you get up 45 minutes or so before you have to leave for work, your time is limited and you haven't been up long enough to feel hungry.   As I go out walking the dog in the morning, I get up early and I am hungry by the time I get back from walking.  I am a firm believer in three meals a day plus snacks mid morning and afternoon.  I like grazing and distributing my calories throughout the day.

Two recent articles about breakfast caught my eye.  One is from the website called RealAge (  RealAge has interesting material on its site and you can sign up for all sorts of newsletters.   In their article they rated the best breakfasts.  They call breakfast the most important meal of the day.  A nutritious, well-balanced breakfast boosts weight loss efforts as breakfast eaters are more successful at losing weight and maintaining the weight loss; eating a high-fiber breakfast makes you more alert than eating a high fat meal; eating whole-grain cereals versus refined cereals is better for your cardiovascular system; and it strengthens your immune system.  RealAge supports eating cereals that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.  Your total goal is 6 grams of fiber at breakfast.   You can get more fiber at breakfast by eating berries, apples, foods with bran or oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, and nuts.  Their article on breakfasts compares different breakfasts and their limitations.

The second article was from Science Daily (June 23, 2008).   The researchers quoted in the article have found that a big breakfast with protein and carbs followed by a low carb, low calorie diet for the rest of the day resulted in dieters staying on their diets as a big breakfast seemed to control appetite and carvings for sweets and carbs.  Women who ate a big breakfast were less hungry, especially before lunch and had fewer carvings for carbs.  These dieters ate more calories at breakfast, lunch had less calories and supper had even less calories.  Total calories for the day were about 1300.   This reminds me of the saving, "eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and supper like a princess."  Consuming your calories in this style might be interesting to try.  You would have to plan out your menus so that you are aware of your carb, protein and fat limits at each meal.

Friday, November 6, 2009


My favourite treats or indulgences are oatmeal cookies and ice cream.  In earlier postings I have shared these important nuggets of revelation.  The recipe I have provided below is a lower calorie recipe as there is a reduced amount of oil, splenda is used instead of sugar and egg whites are used instead of whole eggs. Also, these cookies are not big but what I would call a three bite size cookie.   Another tip in making these cookies is to not let them cool on the baking sheet but transfer to a rack as once they cool off, it is harder to get them off the cookie sheet with a spatula.  You could spray the cookie sheet with Pam, I didn't.



1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats (regular or quick cooking)
½ cup sugar or splenda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 egg whites (2/3 cup egg whites from carton)
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)


In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and chocolate chips and raisins/cranberries.

Mix the egg whites, oil, syrup and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.  Mix well.   Drop dough from a teaspoon 2 inches apart on a non-stick cookie sheet.  Press slightly to flatten.  Bake at 375 degrees F for about 10 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the sheet and let cool on a rack.  Recipe makes about 3 ½ dozen cookies.

Adapted from Meal Lean i Yumm by Noreen Gilletz

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I ran or what some people also call jogging for over 10 years.  I was never a fast runner and in fact I used to joke that I brought up the rear.  I never finished last in the 5 or 10 km runs or half marathons or marathon but I was also never in the top one-third finishers.  I didn't mind my race results as I felt fit, I had decent form and I knew that I was built for endurance and not speed.  I felt sometimes like the Ever Ready bunny in the battery commercials.   I once read an interesting article in Scientific American that explained long and short muscle twitch and that great thoroughbred race horses had short muscle twitches.  I definitely have long muscle twitches.

I recently read an article in Science Daily (November 4, 2009) on recent research that suggests longer toes and unique ankle structures provide sprinters with the ability to accelerate faster and thereby run faster.  The researchers found that long toes give sprinters the advantage of having more contact with the ground for a bit longer that runners with shorter toes.   They also measured the distance between the tendon and center of the rotation of the ankle.  Ostriches, greyhounds and cheetahs have feet built for sprinting.  So I wonder if Usain Bolt, the world record holder sprinter, has long toes?   Other recent research has also found that shorter toes provide for better endurance running. This supports what some coaches see - sprinters are born and are not made.  I tend to agree with this.  You see people who have natural athletic ability and while they still need training and development, they definitely have a talent.  I don't know if I have long or short toes but I am guessing I have short toes, I am not a sprinter and I am built for endurance.   For many years I had a great training partner, she loved to run with me and kept me company.   I knew where every bathroom was on the trails as she would need to get some water on warmer mornings.   Of course being a border collie, she wasn't allowed to run on the actually race days.   She actually deserved to get a race medal for the practice runs she did with me.  Amen...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


I know some people may question eating chocolate in the morning or a more cake like muffin/bread versus an oatmeal/flax/bran kind of breakfast.  Eating something that has chocolate or is sweet in the morning has never been my problem.  Years ago I went to an all inclusive resort in the caribbean and the resort provided great food including bread.  One of the breads they made was a french loaf style chocolate chip.  It was amazing, so amazing that I would skip the other desserts they offered and have a slice of chocolate chip french bread for dessert with my meals.   I tried to make it when I got back home but I couldn't quite duplicate it.  It may have been the quality of chocolate I was using along with the smell of the ocean and the sand.

I recently made banana chocolate chip muffins.  They are good muffins and if you are following the point systems on weight watchers, each one is equivalent to four points.  You can cut the points down to two by using splenda instead of sugar and apple sauce instead of the oil.



1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ripe banana mashed
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips


1.     In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder and salt.
2.     In another bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla.   Mix thoroughly.
3.     Fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moistened.  Add the banana and chocolate chips and fold in.
4.     Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two thirds full.
5.     Bake at 350 degrees F for 22 to 25 minutes. 


You can also add chopped nuts, chopped dried apricots or other dried berries to the mixture.

Adapted from