Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Being on the lookout for soup recipes, especially those using garden tomatoes, I found this recipe on the Weight Watchers site.  I was reminded about this recipe by a friend who made it using tomatoes that she got from me.   It is a great recipe and you can add other vegetables such as carrot to the soup.  I didn't have fresh basil so I added frozen basil.  I didn't finely chop the basil and tore up the frozen leaves so the leaves are in bigger pieces.  For the past two years I have frozen basil from the garden instead of drying it.  Freezing basil is faster and easier than drying it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


My sister-in-law sent me this recipe that she made for supper one night.  It is a very filling and satisfying soup.  I did a bit of tweaking with some of the quantities of vegetables and my changes are incorporated into the recipe.  I added more fresh tomatoes that what the recipe called for.  I may have added too many tomatoes as I was ambitious about using the tomatoes from the garden.  For the kidney beans, I added a 14 ounce can of beans.  I used rice pasta instead of wheat pasta and didn't add any shredded cheese to my bowl of soup.

Soup just finished cooking in a big pot.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


There is a restaurant that I go to a few times a year that provides a tomato tipping sauce with fresh bread, herbed butter and olives at your table while you settle in and peruse the menu.  A former owner shared the recipe in a local magazine years ago which I saved.  I have slightly changed the recipe.  The time to make this recipe is when you can use fresh tomatoes from your garden or your local farmer's market.  The recipe only has a few ingredients and has a wonderful taste. The sauce is great with slices of a fresh baguette.

Tomatoes ready to be blended.

After blending, it looks like juice.

Straining the tomato mixture in a colander. 

The seeds and pulp left after straining.

Ready to be served at the table.

The sampling has started.

6 fresh tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar or splenda
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Place the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and puree.  Don"t overdo it.  Pour the puree into a finer gauge colander and collect the liquid.  Discard the seeds and pulp.  Pour the puree back into the food processor or blender and add the rest of the ingredients.  Blend.  Chill before serving.  Makes almost 2 cups.  Serve with fresh bread.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I am just about finished reading an interesting book by Alex Hutchinson titled "Cardio or Weights".   It was published this year.  The book is about fitness myths, training truths and the science of exercise.  The book provides the latest in research on the science of exercise and has plenty of tips to improve fitness, reach weight loss goals and achieve better results.  The book also points out what science can't explain in the area of exercise.

Alex Hutchinson has an impressive resume.  He has an editor role at several magazines, is a columnist, has a master's degree in journalism and a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge.  

I learned a number of things from reading this book and a number of pages are folded at the corners as a reference guide for me to go back to.  Here are some examples from the book:
  • Starting in your thirties, you lose one to two percent of your muscle mass each year.  Strength training can slow this decline and help you keep your bones strong.
  • You won't accomplish much if you want to tone your muscles by using light weights.  You need to lift more than forty to fifty percent of your one rep maximum.
  • The amount of protein is more than enough in a typical North American diet to build muscle with a strength training program.
  • Each additional pound of body mass puts four additional pounds of stress on your knee, so packing on an additional pound a year for 10 years will increase your chances of developing arthritis in your knees by fifty percent.  
  • Activities that build muscle (like strength training) or provide jarring impacts (like running or basketball) are better for building stronger bones than cycling, swimming or elliptical training. 
  • Losing weight through exercise alone is challenging.  One study found that middle aged women had to exercise for an hour just to avoid gaining weight. 
  • Aerobic exercise burns the most calories but strength training keeps your metabolism high.  You need to combine both for the best results.
  • Based on a set distance, running burns more calories than walking and walking burns more calories than cycling.  For a set amount of time, running is first for calories followed by cycling then walking. 
  • If you are consuming a low calorie diet to lose weight, increase the amount of protein you consume to thirty five percent of calories to help avoid muscle loss.

If you are looking to learn more about the cardio and weight training training tips, improving fitness and the science of weight loss I would recommend reading this book.  The other thing I liked about the book as it is written in non-scientific jargon and is easy to read.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


As part of my breakfast smoothie regime, I include a number of things including oatmeal, frozen fruit, protein powder, almond milk and hemp seed or ground flax seed to make the smoothie.   The DH bought a container of Spirulina awhile ago to use in order to increase his intake of greens.  Spirulina is a plant that is high in protein, iron, chlorophyll and carotene, and is the colour of intense green.

When making a smoothie for both of us one Saturday morning, the DH asked that I add some spirulina.  He hadn't opened up the container yet so we both did not have experience using it.  Looking at the ingredients and nutrient breakdown, I decided to add two tablespoons in order to get enough grams of protein.  With the quantity of spirulina added, I wouldn't add protein whey.  After placing everything in the blender and turning it on, you could see how intense in colour the smoothie was.   I poured the liquid into the tall glasses.

We had a few spoonfuls and our lips and gums were green.  The DH managed a few more spoonfuls than I before we both said that this was about as much as we could eat.  Lots of laughter accompanied looking at the concoction that I created.  The smoothies found their way into the garbage which was a shame as it had oatmeal, frozen blueberries and bananas, soy milk and flax seed.  

I never read the directions on the spirulina container before I added the powder to the blender.  Directions on the container say to start by taking 1/4 tsp daily with juice and increase progressively by a 1/4 tsp daily until four teaspoons.   Well a 1/4 teaspoon is different than the two tablespoons I added.  Lesson learned today----it pays to read directions!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


With produce from the garden, I like to make a gazpacho soup.  If you have never eaten gazpacho soup, it is a cold minced vegetable soup.  It is made in a blender by mincing the raw vegetables and adding some spices, lemon and lime juices and red wine vinegar. You can vary the vegetables depending on what you have.  The recipe is from the Lake Louise Station restaurant in Lake Louise Alberta.  I was so impressed with the soup when I was there years ago at this restaurant and the chef kindly gave me the recipe.   I like the slight acidity flavour from the tomatoes, lemon and lime juices and vinegar.

The recipe calls for tomato juice.  I didn't have tomato juice so I used four garden tomatoes instead.  I also added a stalk of celery and two garden carrots.   I didn't add the regular onion and just used the green onion.

Using the blender to make the soup.
Ready to eat!
4 cups of tomato juice or 4 to 5 large tomatoes
1/2 cup onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 coloured pepper
2 small to medium size cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
2 green onions
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh basil or 3 basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste


Put everything into the blender and blend until smooth.  Serves 3 to 4.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


An easy and crunchy salad to make is a raw beet and carrot salad.  Beets can be eaten raw.  This year I grew an italian variety of beets called "barbabietola da orto betteraves".   The beet doesn't bleed red when you peel it and when cut open, it looks like a spinning wheel of white and red colours.  It is nice at times to not have the red stain on your hands from handling beets.  I have used grated raw beets in green salads and they add a wonderful texture.  For this recipe, I decided to grate raw carrots and beets, both from the garden,  to create a salad.   I enjoyed the taste of this salad and will definitely make it again.

Cleaned beets and carrots ready to be grated.

A cuisinart grater that I use for small jobs.

Beets finely grated.

Carrots finely grated.

Mixing the salad.

Ready to eat.
1/2 pound carrots, cleaned, peeled (if required), grated
1/2 pound beets, cleaned, peeled, grated
1 green onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp mustard, dijon or other varieties
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium size bowl, mix the carrots, beets, onion, and parsley.  In a separate small bowl whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic and mustard.  Add dressing to the vegetables and mix.  Add salt and pepper to the salad based on taste.  Serves 4 to 5. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011


In looking for zucchini recipes, I remembered a recipe I used to make - zucchini fritters.  I reviewed some of my cookbooks and found a similar recipe in Mark Bittman's cookbook "The Food Matters Cookbook".   This recipe can be made ahead of time and eaten cold or warm.  In essence the fritters are really another name for pancakes.  They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Mixing the ingredients.

I used an electric non-stick frying pan.

Flipped over and cooking the second side.
Ready to serve.


3 packed cups of grated zucchini
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill or 1/2 tsp dried
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying


Squeeze the excess moisture from the grated zucchini with your hands and put in a large bowl.  Add the onion, dill, egg, cornmeal and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Put about 2 to 3 tbsp of oil into a non stick pan over medium-high heat.   When hot, drop large tablespoon serving size of batter into the oil and spread them out a bit.  You want the fritter to be about the size of a regular pancake.  Don't overcrowd the pan.  Cook, turning once, so that both sides are golden brown.   If you want to keep the cooked fritters warm, place the fritters on an oven proof plate in a 250 degree F oven until all of the batter is cooked.  Makes about 16 fritters.  Serve with lemon juice, plain yogurt or salsa.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I found this recipe for a basic vinaigrette salad dressing in the July/August Nutrition Action Newsletter.  I made it to use for a vegetable green salad.  The dressing can be used for other salads including legume beans, tuna, salmon, shrimp and green beans.  I made almost a double batch to keep in the fridge and use for other salads.


1 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp honey or agave
1/3 cup olive oil


Whisk together the ingredients in a small container and store the unused dressing in the fridge for future use.