Saturday, April 30, 2011


Going out for a walk in the early morning when the sun is just starting to rise allows you to see some of the wildlife that are out and about, especially beavers.  I have only been able to see the beavers by the creek when I walk in the early morning or at dusk.

With the increased water levels due to spring runoff and excessive moisture this winter, the water has overtaken some of the land close to the walking and biking paths.  With some trees being surrounded by water, it has made it easier for the beavers to gnaw and chew on certain trees.  Beavers are wonderful to watch and have interesting social structures but they are destructive.  I took the following photos while out walking one recent morning.  The photos include some of the sights I saw that morning.

When I first saw these two beavers I thought this was two mounds of dirt.  The beaver on the left is facing me and the one on the right has its back to me.

This beaver with its back to me, is chewing away on material from a tree. 

A front photo of a beaver chewing on material.

About 15 minutes later from the first set of beavers I saw, I saw this third beaver swimming along the creek.

Damage to the tree by a beaver.

Another damaged tree.

The Canada geese make much noise when I walk by with the dog.

A red winged black bird.

Several ducks foraging for food.

The rabbit is slowly changing its cost from winter to summer colours.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


In my quest to use couscous in different ways, I came across this recipe at ''.   I made a few changes to the ingredients and it is definitely a keeper.  Both the DH and I enjoyed it.  It is so good I could have it for breakfast.  This salad makes about 8 cups so plan for leftovers if you make it.  The salad calls for raisins or apricots.  I used raisins and they add a bit of sweetness.

Cooked couscous cooling in a mixing bowl.

Green onions, carrots and red pepper added to the bowl.

Shredded purple cabbage has been added to the mixture.

The salad looks like confetti and the purple juice from the cabbage  adds to the colour of the salad.

A close up view.

Couscous Confetti Salad
1 1/2 cups dry whole-wheat couscous 

2 cups boiling water 

2 green onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced 

1 carrot, grated 
or finely chopped
1 - 2 cups finely shredded red cabbage 

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley 

1/2 cup raisins or chopped dried apricots 

1 tbsp lemon 
5 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar 

1 tsp cumin
In a large bowl, combine couscous and boiling water. Stir to mix, then cover and let stand until all the water has been absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Add green onions, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, parsley, and raisins or apricots.  In a small bowl mix lemon juice, vinegar, oil and cumin.  Add to salad and toss to mix.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 - 1cup servings.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Awhile ago I bought frozen lean beef patties from Costco.  Each portion is fair sized and since one doesn't have to only use these patties as hamburger, I thought of using a number of patties to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce.  The spaghetti sauce is more than just a meat sauce as I added a variety of vegetables to make the sauce.  I didn't make the sauce very spicy but more flavour can be added by adding dried red chilies flakes or other spices to give it more warmth.  Along with having this for supper, I froze several containers for future meals.

Browning the lean ground beef.

I added a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes and a 14 oz can of tomato sauce.

Chopping the onions in a small food chopper.

Adding the ingredients to the pot.

A container of sauce ready for the freezer.

Spaghetti sauce over a cup of spinach pasta.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup of thinly sliced or chopped mushrooms
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 - 28 oz can of tomatoes
1 - 14 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of red wine (optional)
1 tsp of dried chili pepper flakes
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
ground pepper to taste

In a large pot, brown the beef on medium heat until the pink is gone from the meat.  Drain the meat and pour off any excess liquid or fat.  Set the meat aside in a bowl.  Add the olive oil to the pot and on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until they start to become soft.  Don't brown them.  If they are starting to brown, turn the heat down. Add the celery, carrots and mushrooms and saute for about 4 minutes.  Add the remainder of the ingredients except for the pepper and spinach.  Simmer for at least an hour.  I simmered the sauce for 90 minutes.  Add pepper to taste and the spinach to the sauce.  Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.   Serve with pasta.  The sauce makes about 8 servings depending on how much sauce you like to add to the pasta.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I need variety in my consumption of vegetables and sometimes I want to eat other vegetables than having a salad.  The following recipe is easy to make and the vegetables can vary depending on what you have in the fridge.  I centred the recipe around carrots and added vegetables that would compliment the carrots.

Vegetables cooking in the frying pan.

Leftover vegetables added to a container to be eaten the following day for lunch.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 large carrots, chopped or julienned
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
handful of fresh spinach
salt and pepper to taste

In a non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add all of the vegetables except for the spinach and saute on medium low heat until the vegetables are soft.  This should take about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach wilts.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 2 to 3.  To add more flavour, you can add some seasoned rice vinegar or sweet chili sauce to the vegetables after you have placed it on your plate.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I came across this wonderful recipe in a Anne Lindsay cookbook "Lighthearted at Home".  I made a few changes.  It is a quick and easy recipe to prepare and serve.  I served the dish with rice.

Yellow pepper, onions and sugar snap peas.

Chicken being stir fried in a wok.

Garlic, orange rind and ginger added to the wok.

The vegetables being cooked before the chicken is added back to the wok.

The finished product!


1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
handful of sugar snap peas
1 orange
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp sherry or cooking wine
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar or splenda
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger root, minced


Grate the orange rind from the orange.  Set aside.  Squeeze the orange, collect the juice and put it into a small bowl.  Discard the squeezed orange pulp.  To the orange juice in the bowl, add the chili sauce, sherry, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch.  Stir until smooth.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok to medium high heat and stir fry the chicken until browned and no longer pink.  Remove the chicken.  Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the wok, heat the oil and add orange rind, garlic and ginger root.  Stir fry for 1 minute.  Add the pepper, onion and sugar snap peas and stir fry for several minutes.  Add the chicken back to the wok.  Stir contents in the wok for another minute or two.  Add the orange juice mixture to the wok and stir until the sauce is heated.  The sauce will quickly thicken.  Serves 4.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


There are some many recipes you can make with quinoa.  Quinoa is so versatile.  I made this recipe based on ingredients that my sister-in-law recalled from making it herself.  You can eat this as a side dish or add some protein to it to make a complete meal.  I made this recipe using 1.5 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of water as I was having a number of people over for supper.  I didn't change the measurements for the other ingredients or dressing.  With the leftovers, I added some canned salmon to about 3/4 cup of the quinoa salad and had it for lunch.


1 cup quinoa
2 cups of water
1/3 cup raisins
1 green onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup almonds, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup oil olive
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 glove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp maple syrup
pepper to taste

Heat quinoa and water to a boil in a pot, then let simmer for 10 minutes.  All the water should be absorbed.  Let the quinoa cool.  Add the raisins, onion, apple and almonds to a mixing bowl or serving bowl.  Add the quinoa and mix well.  Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and maple syrup in a small bowl or cup.  Mix well.  Pour over the salad and combine all the ingredients.  Season with pepper. Serves 4 to 5.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The title of this soup is a bit of a misnomer as the soup uses skim milk, not cream.  I made this soup for several reasons including the fact that I had a big bag of broccoli florets from Costco and we weren't eating enough of the broccoli before it would start to get old.  The soup turned out well and I made enough for lunches for the week.  This recipes calls for 8 cups of broccoli which I did use.  I added curry powder to the soup but you could add another spice instead to the soup.  This recipe doesn't use flour but instead includes a potato.

Low Fat Cream of Broccoli Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp curry
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
8 cups of broccoli florets
1 large potato, diced
2 cups of milk (skim or 1% to make it low fat)
pepper to taste


In a large soup pot, heat the oil on medium heat and saute the onion, celery and garlic until tender.  Add the curry powder.  Add the broth, broccoli and potato and simmer with the cover on for 10 minutes.

Using a stick blender, puree the soup right in the cooking pot.  Add the milk and pepper and heat the soup until the contents are hot.  Makes about 10 cups of soup.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


My sister-in-law shared this recipe with me.  It is a low fat muffin that includes banana, raisins, dates and chopped nuts.  Besides making it low fat by using applesauce, I also used splenda instead of sugar and also reduced the amount of sugar as the dried fruit and banana provides extra sweetness.  If you don't want to use dates, you can use prunes or apricots or replace the amount of this with extra raisins or nuts.  I used slivered almonds as I have a bag of it in the freezer and they should be used.  I also made half the recipe as the full recipe makes 3 dozen muffins.


3 eggs           
1 ½ cups applesauce
4 bananas, mashed           
½ cup skim milk or buttermilk
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups wheat bran
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chopped dates or prunes or apricots

In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add applesauce, bananas, milk and sugar.  Mix in molasses, vanilla and wheat bran.

In another smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to wet mixture and mix. Stir in nuts and fruit.
Bake at 350°F about 18 minutes.

Yeilds: 3 dozen large muffins

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I love the combination of beans, corn, cilantro and grains such as couscous or quinoa.  When I realized I had all of the ingredients I decided to make this salad.  It makes enough for leftovers to have for lunches.   One interesting footnote to this salad.  I thought I had a can of black beans in the cupboard but it was actually black soy beans.  I didn't realize the can was soy beans until I opened it.  Any kind of beans can be used in this salad.  It is a great salad.

Corn is the first ingredient added to the big bowl.

I used black soy beans instead of black beans.

Chopped yellow pepper and green onion.

Vegetable ingredients and beans added to the bowl.  Mixing them is the next step.

Couscous cooling before being added to the salad.

Ready to be served.
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp wine vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup or other sweetening ingredient
1/2 tsp cumin
4 green onions, chopped
1 red/yellow pepper, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 - 15 ounce can black beans or other beans
salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth to boil in a sauce pan and stir in the couscous.  Cover the pot, remove from the burner and let stand for five minutes.  Let cool and while cooling, fluff the couscous and break up any chunks.  In a large bowl, add the onions, pepper, corn and cilantro.  Mix the ingredients.  Add the couscous and mix well.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, maple syrup and cumin.

Add the oil mixture to the salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper if required.  Serves 5 to 6.

Adapted from

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I read an article recently reprinted from the New York Times about if you wanted a personal fitness trainer at home, then you should find yourself a dog.  The article described a number of research studies done on the benefits of having something with four legs and a wagging tail as a great home exercise equipment.  I couldn't agree more.  Having a dog that likes being active encourages me to be more active.  Sleeping in on weekends to a time that only teenagers get to indulge in or getting up later on a work day is not part of my regular routine.  It is a rare day for me to not walk the dog each morning.  Dogs are true believers in routines and going out for a walk is an important part of their routine.  My dog loves routine.  For most people, getting a dog increases your level of activity and you do clock more minutes of exercise versus a non dog owner.   There are some people who don't walk their dogs.  These dogs run around in the backyard and/or get walked by non family members.  

The dog knows when we are going for a walk regardless if it is part of the routine or not.  I can't figure out how he knows we are going for walk before I even start to put on my 'walking clothes'.  I try to be quiet or not give any clues but he reads signs that are not apparent to me!  

Highlights of the various research studies identified the following:

  • Dogs are powerful motivators to get people moving.
  • Dog walkers are more active overall than people who don't own dogs.
  • Older people are more likely to take regular walks if their walking companion is canine versus human.  Walking speed also increased in older dog walkers.
  • Dogs won't make excuses to skip a walk if it is hot, raining or cold outside.  Human walking companions might talk you out of going for a walk.
  • Dog walking doesn't replace other exercise you would have done otherwise.  Dog walkers had higher overall levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity, were more likely to participate in other physical activities and overall exercised more than people who did not own dogs. 
Need I say more as to support the benefits of dogs and their two legged companions getting more fit........