Friday, June 15, 2012


Quinoa is a tricky word to pronounce the first time you see it.  I had to be corrected by a bookstore clerk where I was looking for a wholegrain cookbook.  I was a little apprehensive about trying quinoa for the first time - I bought a box of it and put it in my cupboard but by the time I was ready to experiment with it, it had expired.  Needless to say, I went out and bought some new from the Bulk Barn.  The recipe I wanted to try used the traditional variety but the BB had only the red in organic so I got that instead.  I must say the salad I made with it was delicious and I will make it again and again.

I am crazy for wholegrain salads so I will feature them frequently.  They make the perfect work lunch for me because I don't like to microwave my food.  This salad features green lentils, sweet red pepper, feta, red quinoa  and fresh mint with a lemony dijon dressing.  Add some crisp baby arugula and enjoy!

*Quinoa and Lentil Salad*

2/3 cup  dried green lentils
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 sweet red pepper, chopped finely
2-3 green onions chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled or shredded
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste - I found the feta alone added enough saltiness and did not add salt

baby arugula

Rinse lentils and gently boil in salted water for 30 minutes or until tender but still firm.  Drain and set aside to cool.  Rinse quinoa thoroughly with warm water ( about 3 minutes) to remove the bitter coating.  Drain well and cook in the 2 cups of water for 15 minutes (or as per package instructions).  Let sit 10 minutes.  If there is still water in the quinoa you may drain it.  Add the cooled lentils and quinoa to the red pepper, mint, green onions and feta in a large bowl.  Make a dressing by whisking the olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, salt and pepper and mix well with the salad ingredients.  Add as much arugula as you like.  Yummy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

They call it the white death...

White sugar.  The white sugar in your homes that you use to sweeten your coffee or bake with, along with sugars added to processed foods and beverages is probably the worst dietary habit of all affecting your health.  It is high in calories and probably the easiest food to digest because it has been reduced to the simplest carbohydrate (devitalized down to it's carbon atom) by over processing.  Studies have shown that over-consumption contributes to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, inflammation, weakened immunity and even cancer.  And that's just what we know.  Most people don't know that most brown sugars are simply refined white sugar that has had some molasses added back into it.  That would be an additional process.  I think the worst of all sweeteners is high fructose corn syrup.   Please take some time to research how sugar is processed and how it affects your health.

Ok, so is there any safe sugar?   I've found this a little confusing.  I think the best sugar would be the least processed one which is evaporated pure cane juice, organic of course.  Also known as turbinado, this sugar is relatively unprocessed, unrefined and crystallized through evaporation.  Similar to turbinado is demerara sugar, though to be honest I'm not sure what the exact difference is.  Both are large grained and a light brown color and can be used  in place of refined white sugar.   Muscovado sugar is a dark brown unrefined sugar that still contains some of it's molasses and can be used as you would brown sugar.

 Keep in mind when using that these "safer" sugars have the same number of calories and the same amount of glucose per spoonful  as refined white sugar (as does honey and maple syrup) so we still need to make sure we are not consuming more than our bodies can handle healthily.  The recommendations for a healthy adult without diabetes is under 40 grams per day.  Just to give you some idea how much that is, one teaspoon of granulated white sugar has 4 grams of sugar.  An average 12 oz can of pop has almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, or a full 40 grams.  If your yogurt has 12 grams of sugar per serving that equals 3 teaspoons of sugar!  Not many of us could sit and eat 3 spoonfuls of sugar right out of the sugar bowl, but we don't seem to notice it in a 100 gram serving of sweetened and flavored yogurt - how is that?  I don't know about you, but it defies my logic! 

I really try not to add sugar to anything I eat or drink and I don't drink any sugary beverages.  I don't drink juice either, preferring to eat whole fruits and vegetables which are hydrating and have the added benefit of fiber!  Am I ready to give up sugar?  No way!  I am, however, going to try and minimize my use of it.

Sometimes you just have to have something sweet and these coconut macaroons will fill that bill and may even be good for you.  Studies have shown that the daily consumption of coconut oil fats helps to burn fat and increase calorie expenditure.  These moist and chewy treats make  use of evaporated cane juice and contain no dairy, gluten, or fat other than what is naturally found in the unsweetened coconut used.  They are simple and easy to make and each cookie has only 60 calories!

*Coconut Macaroons*

1/3 cup water
1 cup evaporated cane juice (turbinado sugar)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (fine shred works best)
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cookie sheet by spraying lightly with a cooking oil spray.

In medium saucepan bring water, cane juice, vanilla, honey and salt to a boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Boil for 30 seconds to form a syrup and remove from heat.

In a medium bowl mix coconut and egg white well.  Stir in syrup mixture to form a dough.  Drop on prepared sheet by rounded tablespoons, one inch apart. 

Bake in center of oven for 8 minutes; rotate pan and bake for 4-5 minutes longer, or until brown and set.  Cool completely and store in airtight container.  Makes aprox 36 cookies.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just a thought...

The other day I was thinking, wouldn't it be great if we could just eliminate the extra calories we don't use like we do the waste we don't use from our food.   But then I guess our species wouldn't have survived if we hadn't had the ability to store those extra calories as fat for the lean seasons.  What was once a trait necessary for our survival is no longer necessary due to the fact that food is plentiful in the developed world all year long.  We're also not spending most of our day searching for and hunting down our food! 

So there it is - our bodies are only doing what comes naturally and until we evolve physically we'll have to "evolve" our way of thinking about eating and eat only what we need to power our modern lifestyle.  I think we do need to count calories - we should find out how many calories are in our food choices and how much activity is required to burn off those calories.  Maybe then we will make better choices.  It sounds like a lot of work doesn't it, but what's the alternative?  We need to be accountable.

The pictures are of a meal we had last weekend - grilled steak and vegetables.  It doesn't get much easier than this!   The mixed peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus and cherry tomato grilled crisp-tender and lightly seasoned with Clubhouse vegetable seasoning go perfect with a nice steak.  Much tastier than a baked potato with sour cream, and I like the fact that I can fill my plate and not have to worry about empty calories!