Sunday, May 29, 2011


I cooked several cobs of corn for supper recently and had one cob leftover.  What do you do with one leftover cob of corn?  I decided to make a salad with the corn.  Using a knife I cut the corn off the husk and put the corn, which was about one cup, into a container to be stored in the fridge.   The salad was made a day later.  The salad uses several vegetables and you can improvise.  The basis of the salad has corn, broccoli and tomatoes.  You can use other vegetables such as cooked green beans, sugar snap peas, mushrooms and peppers.  Both the DH and I enjoyed this salad.

1 cup of cooked corn

2 cups cooked broccoli florets
2 cocktail tomatoes, chopped
6 cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
1 green onion, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp wine or balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced 
salt and pepper to taste


Into a medium size bowl, add all of the vegetables and cilantro.  Combine.  Mix the oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper in a separate small bowl.   Add the dressing to the vegetables and mix.  Serves 3 to 4.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I like to roast or grill vegetables and I tend to prepare vegetables this way more during the spring and summer months than winter.  It is likely due to the variety available and also about how we tend to eat differently depending on the season.  I got the idea for this recipe while browsing a promotional magazine published by a nation wide pharmacy.  Of course I turned this recipe into my own.  The recipe can be served as a side dish or as the main dish.

Coarsely chopped vegetables.

After being tossed with olive oil, the vegetables are spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet.
I used this prepared sauce instead of sun dried tomatoes

You can use spaghetti or soba noodles.

Roasted vegetables chopped after roasting.

Pasta mixed with sun dried tomato sauce.

Roasted vegetables. 

Roasted vegetables on top of pasta.

1 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/3 lengths
1 medium eggplant, peeled, and cut into large strips
1 red or orange pepper, quartered
5 to 6 mushrooms, coarsely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a 1 pound package spaghetti or soba noodles
3 tbsp tomato based pesto sauce


Place vegetables into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.  Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Roast in an oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Turn vegetables over and roast for another 10 minutes.  While the vegetables are roasting, bring a medium size pot to a boil and cook the noodles per the directions on the package.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and chop into small pieces.  Place into a bowl and set aside.  Drain the cooked pasta and place into a serving bowl.  Add the pesto sauce to the pasta and mix together.   Place desired serving of pasta onto your plate and top with roasted vegetables.  Serves four.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


There are some ads that you see that don't require lots of words to tell their story.  New York City's health department has created a number of great ads that promote healthy eating.  This campaign has been targeted to deal with the high incidences of obesity and diabetes in its population.  The latest ad in its health campaign on sugar tells the picture and story about how a few sweetened drinks can add up to 93 packets of sugar by the end of the day.  That is almost 1,400 empty calories.  To put everything into perspective, for me to lose weight, I need to consume about 1,600 to 1,700 calories a day.

Sugar sweetened beverages

New York Department of Health

There are many other examples of sugar in our food.  For example the popular lemon flavoured iced tea.  A large drink has 210 calories and 14.5 teaspoons of sugar.  About 4 grams of sugar is equal to a teaspoon of sugar and 16 calories.  I like to drink almond milk and 1 cup of regular almond milk has 8 grams of sugar which is 2 teaspoons and 32 calories.  For those of you that like to add sweetened dry cranberries to your porridge or muffins, 1/3 cup of cranberries has 26 grams of sugar or over 6 teaspoons and 96 calories.

In Mark Bittman's book "Food Matters" he provides some succinct comments on sugar.  High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a manufactured sugar made from corn, has replaced cane sugar and beet sugar as the primary sweetener for many kinds of foods.  HFCS is cheap, easy to use and increases the shelf life of processed foods.   The US produces about 80 pounds a year per person of corn-based sugars (mostly HFCS).  In the US, the average person consumes one cup of sugar a day.  In other words 48 teaspoons a day of sugar.

You might think 48 teaspoons is a lot of sugar to consume in one day.  But if you think about a large drink of pop or flavoured ice tea which has 14.5 teaspoons of sugar, ice cream, sugar glazed donut, frosting on cake or cup cakes which is really just pure sugar, energy or meal replacement bars, some breakfast cereals, starbucks frappes, some fruit such as grapes, cherries and banana, fruit flavoured yogurts- it is not hard to consume that amount of sugar.    It would be an interesting exercise for anyone to track the amount of sugar they are consuming on a daily basis.

All this talk of sugar makes me want to have a square of dark 71% chocolate.  One small square of the chocolate bar I am looking at has 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 34 calories in a 6 gm piece of chocolate.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I have posted before about using ground meat for more than just making hamburgers.  I bought some lean ground chicken for supper and decided to make a different version of Shepherd's pie.  I found a recipe on the Canadian Living website and made a a number of modifications.  The recipe turned out to quite good and I would definitely make this again.  In making this recipe, I used ground chicken but you can also use ground turkey.  If you wanted to make this recipe vegetarian you could substitute the ground chicken with cooked grains or meatless ground soy products.

Ground chicken and vegetables cooking in the frying pan.

The meat and vegetable mixture in the baking dish. 

Sweet potatoes spread over the top.

I shredded old cheddar cheese over the top of the sweet potatoes.

Hot out of the oven.

Ready to eat!
Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato and Ground Chicken

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup niblets corn
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp thyme or herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4- cups chicken stock
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


Peel and boil sweet potatoes until tender. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion and minced garlic for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the ground chicken or turkey and cook for 5 minutes before adding the carrots, corn and celery. Cook until the meat is browned.

Stir in poultry seasoning, thyme or herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Add flour and cook for one minute. Add stock and simmer until thickened to a gravy.

Pour into a baking dish. When the sweet potatoes are done.  Mash them with butter. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the meat mixture. Top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake at 350ºF  for 30 minutes.

Adapted from

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


With the change in seasons to warmer weather, we turn our minds from making soups to salads.  I quite like this recipe for a black bean quinoa salad bowl.  You can add different vegetables and chopped almonds or other nuts to change the taste.   This recipe is makes a good lunch to bring to work.

Cooked quinoa. 

Black beans draining after being cooked.

Quinoa and beans mixed together.

Chopping some of the vegetables.

Chopped mushrooms prior to adding to the quinoa mixture.

The quinoa bowl is ready to sample!

Lemony Vegetables and Black Bean Quinoa Bowl


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp honey
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed OR 2 ½ cups cooked beans
1 green onion, chopped
5-6 mushrooms, chopped
handful of sugar snap peas, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
pepper to taste


To a medium size pot, add quinoa, water, garlic and honey.  Cover and bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool. 

If using dry black beans, they will need to be soaked the night before.  Cook one cup of dry black beans to make 2 ½ cooked beans.   Let cool once the beans are soft.

Add the beans, quinoa, onion, mushrooms and sugar snap peas to a mixing bowl.   Stir to combine.  In a small bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice, cumin and pepper.  Pour over the quinoa mixture and toss until combined.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Serves 5 to 6.

Add ½ cup chopped toasted almonds to the mixture.
Other vegetables can be used such as steamed asparagus, red pepper, celery, or carrots.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I was looking to make a lamb stew and wanted to try something different.  I decided to add almond butter to the stew for a different taste.  This thought was based on other recipes I have made where peanut butter is adding to chicken soup or a chicken stew.  Furthermore, chinese restaurants make beef or chicken almond/cashew stir fries.  The almond butter provides a subtle taste in the stew.  The other highlight of making this recipe is using my staub dutch oven.

Lamb and onion being saute in the dutch oven.

Celery being chopped.

Carrots chopped and ready to go into the dutch oven.

Fresh tomatoes are added.

All of the ingredients are added except the almond butter.

This is the brand of almond butter that I buy at Costco.

Almond butter is added to the stew and combined with the ingredients.

The lid is placed on the dutch oven and the pot is placed in the oven.


1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lamb stew meat, cubed
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup cooking or real wine
1 1/2 cups water
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 tbsp almond butter


In a dutch oven, heat the oil on medium heat and saute the onions and garlic until soft.  Add the lamb and continuing to saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the celery and carrots, stir to combine and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, stir throughout, add the almond butter, the cooking wine, salt, pepper and water and stir.  Put into the oven at 300 degrees F for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Serves 4 to 5.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Lentils are easy to cook and one of the few beans that does not require soaking before cooking.  Besides adding artichokes and mushrooms to the lentils, you could also add other vegetables or substitute.  One lesson I have learned is that you add the lemon juice at the end of the cooking the beans.  If you add lemon juice at the start, it takes much longer for the beans to cook.   I enjoyed this dish.

Onions saute in a large saucepan.

Lentils and vegetables are simmering.

Stew is ready to be served.


1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 cup dry (uncooked) red or brown lentils (3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1-ounce can tomatoes, undrained, or 6 cups chopped tomatoes plus 1 cup tomato juice
1 1/2 cups quartered artichoke hearts (1- 14-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste


Heat broth in a large saucepan. Add onion and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until golden. If the onion sticks to the pan, add a bit of water.  Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add dried lentils, bay leaf, and water to pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add tomatoes, artichokes, and crushed red pepper (if using).

Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.  Add the lemon juice.  Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add salt and black pepper, or to taste.  Makes 6 servings

Adapted from http://pcrm/org/kickstarthome

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Green beans can be served in a variety of ways.  In making this dish I included some mushrooms and sugar snap peas but it can also be made with just green beans.   When buying green beans, I prefer french beans as they are a thinner bean.  The recipe is very simple and combines the tastes of seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and garlic.  I like using seasoned rice vinegar in a variety of dishes.  I served this recipe cold but it can also be served hot or warm.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pound of green beans 
6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
handful of sugar snap peas
2 tbsp seasoned vinegar
2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium size frying pan, heat oil on medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Stir so that mushrooms and garlic doesn't stick to the pan.  Add the green beans and continue to saute the vegetables until the beans start to become tender (about 5 minutes).  You don't want to overcook the beans.  Add the sugar snap peas if using and continue cooking for another minute or two.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Remove the vegetables from the pan and place into a serving dish.  If using right away, mix the vinegar and sesame oil and pour over the beans.  If you are not serving this dish right way, store in the fridge until ready and add the vinegar and sesame oil before serving.  Serves 4 to 5.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This past January I wrote about the concept of wearing six items of clothing for 30 days (Six Items of clothing).  Accessories didn't count as part of the six items.  Angela Self, who is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group has written about her experiences of six pieces of clothing in the Globe and Mail.  I can relate to her impulse shopping and also some of her purchases that were more fantasy wear than real life wear.

When putting away my winter sweaters and finer knit/wool tops in storage containers for the spring swap of summer wear, I was reminded of how much clothes I have and what I would actually wear this coming season.  I also realized that I didn't really need to 'shop' more as I have enough variety to choose from.  I certainly have more than six 'office wear' tops.  But I do like to shop.  Sometimes it serves as retail therapy.  Angela has made a number of important points when considering future purchases:

  • assess what you want first
  • invest in what you need
  • get creative with what you want
  • invest in staple items before spending significant change on the trendier pieces which has a short lifespan
I know I won't commit to wearing only six items for a month but I do need to think about the purchases I am considering to buy and whether these are impulse purchases or investments in staple items that will compliment clothes already in my closet.