Month: October 2013

Sugar Hangover

I know it’s not just the kids that will be dealing with a sugar hangover tomorrow. We all sneak sugar here and there. Candy from the basket or the copious amounts of chocolate and candy hanging around in the office. And that doesn’t even disappear once Halloween is over. We all know that offices become dumping grounds for all the extra candy we don’t don’t want at home.

Sneaking the treats for one day is one thing but continuing over the next few days is where the damage happens. Practicing good eating habits and mindful eating from now will stop overeating. You are probably already dealing with a sugar hangover.

Clear out your system and feel good again by starting the day with a lemon water drink. Cold or warm, it doesn’t matter. Tonight, prepare your blender with ingredients for a smoothie in the morning. Add coconut water, yogurt, almond milk – whatever liquids you have for the base. Add as much fruit as you want/can. Trying including a banana if you have one. Frozen fruits are great to keep on hand for convenience as well as variety when we get deeper into winter and the selection decreases. Flax oil is a great addition and some kind of green vegetable is vital to revitalise yourself. Nothing fresh? Keep a greens powder on hand, wheatgrass for instance, so you can have a little whenever you need it. Finally, throw in a splash of maple syrup if you need to sweeten it.

If you have a juicer, go for a beet, ginger and greens juice to get you going. Arm yourself with a bottle of filtered water and you will be ready to not only recharge, but to avoid those leftover temptations as well.

What do I do with ……. Couscous

Couscous has pros and cons. On the plus side, it is a wonderful convenience food since its cooking time is literally zero. It simply sits in boiled water for 5 minutes and then it fluffs up with a fork.

Couscous is also widely available in a whole-wheat variety which tastes even better than the regular version. It has a nuttier flavour.

But on the downside, couscous is not a healthy grain that can replace bread or pasta. Because couscous is pasta. It’s made from semolina, a type of wheat that is coarsely ground. Keep this in mind when using it as a base.

There are 2 types of couscous you can find in the grocery stores. The regular type I have described above and Israeli couscous. These 2 are totally unrelated but both have a similar name. Israeli couscous is a North American term for its real name Ptitim, small balled shaped pasta pieces that are toasted. It comes from Israel, hence it’s name. It’s a little harder to find Israeli couscous, and even harder to find a wholewheat version. When you do find it, the price may put you off. I spent $5 on one package that lasted one meal. That’s way too much for something that is essentially pasta.

Both types soak up the flavour very well which is good because they are quite bland on their own. You can create an easy meal with stocks you already have, using a basis of couscous, vegetables and herbs.

1. Boil 1-1/3 cup water. Add a little sauce, turn off the heat and add 1 cup couscous. Cover and set aside.
2. In a skillet, add 1/4 cup pinenuts (or chopped walnuts or nuts you have on hand) and cook, stirring frequently until browned. Remove pinenuts into a dish and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, celery, red pepper, garlic and mushrooms (or whatever you have on hand that can be sautéed). Once cooked, stir in chopped parsley or cilantro (or whatever you have).
4. Fluff couscous with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Add vegetables, pine nuts, raisins (if desired) and feta cheese (also optional). Serve immediately or as a salad once cooled.

* An alternative is to add raw vegetables for a salad. Toast the nuts though still. They enhance the nutty flavour of the couscous.

* My husband loves to make couscous as a side dish that has been toasted in sesame oil first. For this, heat 1/2 tbsp sesame oil in a small saucepan. Add 1 cup couscous and stir until browned. Add 1-1/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cover for 5 minutes. Fluff and stir in chopped green onion and chili pepper before serving.

Those Pumpkin Seeds

You’ve carved the pumpkin and have a pile of pumpkin seeds leftover in a yucky, sticky pile.

What to do?

Pumpkin seeds are quick and easy to prepare and make great snacks.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the seeds in a colander to eliminate all the stringy flesh. Pat dry.

in a bowl, toss together the seeds, olive oil and sea salt. Spread the seeds on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes until browned.

keep in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Keep the bowl handy when you’re handing out candy on Halloween to resist the temptation of the sugar. These seeds also make great snacks for the mid afternoon slump or even better, include them in your lunch so you don’t have a slump at all.

You can experiment with other flavours as well. A small amount of sugar and cinnamon or nutmeg would all make good varieties.

Metta

We are a society of people that tend to take things very personally. Consider the fact that you don’t know what somebody is going through when you meet them. Every one of us faces our own battles.

Forgiveness, kindness and compassion. To others and yourself.

You’ll be amazed how much peace that gives you.

Stocking the Candy

Chances are, stocking up on Halloween candy this weekend was on your to-do list. If so, keeping them out of sight will help you resist the temptation. Under no circumstances, open that box!

If you are a last minute purchaser, like myself, it’s easier to resist the temptation of “just one” at the end of a bad day. Because one leads to another and another and if you’ve ever been to a wine or beer tasting, you know how quickly those “little” tasters add up. Yes, there are less calories in one treat but there are more in the end when it’s hard to stop.

Never fear. The stores aren’t actually ever going to run out. In fact, they might even put them on sale on October 31. The choice might not be as extensive but small sacrifice for keeping that candy out of the house.

If you do have the choice, do the kids’ parents a favour and avoid too many artificial colours and flavours which is linked to hyperactivity (and every parent wants that at 8pm on a school night!). The easiest way to do that is to stick to the chocolate candy bars. The ingredients tend to be less and cleaner. Alternatively, there is a company yummyearth.com
that sells lollipops and candies that are free of artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and lots of other chemicals. I’ve often picked them up at Winners, but they are also available at Target, Staples (of all places), Whole Foods and well.ca.

Finally, if you can’t resist temptation, consider the option of, horror!, not giving candy at all. Particularly smaller children will love small bottles of bubbles (my neighbour does this each year), stickers or glowsticks. It’s better than hiding behind darkened curtains anyway.

Happy Halloween!

Which Fish?

A recent study (again, a legitimate one to be published in the journal, Diabetes Care) has found that higher levels of mercury can contribute significantly to diabetes.

Why? Because mercury interferes with blood sugar levels, which releases too much insulin and results in insulin resistance leading to diabetes.

As well as mercury fillings, fish is the biggest carrier of mercury so it’s important to choose carefully. I already posted the website http://www.seachoice.org which gives the most up to date information on which are the best choices, since it changes frequently.

But there are a couple of easy rules to ensure your levels stay low.

AVOID: these fish are very high in mercury and it’s recommended children and pregnant woman avoid them. Honestly, I believe that if they should avoid them, we all should. These fish include King Mackerel, Tilefish, Shark, Grouper, Swordfish, Marlin, Chilean SeaBass and – the biggest culprit – Tuna.

Tuna is the biggest culprit because it’s the most commonly consumed from this list. Many of the others are endangered species and aren’t highly available anyway. But canned tuna is huge.

So, choose your canned tuna wisely. The easiest way is to look for LIGHT on the can. Think of it as Light Mercury. Helps me remember anyway! The skipjack light tuna in brine/water is always my choice.
Avoid albacore, bigeye, blackfin, bluefin versions.

CHOOSE: Canadian mackerel, pacific sardines, rainbow trout, sockeye salmon.
When shopping, take this guide with you to help you through the confusion of which is the best of the choices available that day.

SeaChoice Guide PDF

Fish has massive health benefits, especially the oily fishes so don’t let this put you off eating it. As with all our food however, we need to choose well. I hope this helps you and remember, eating whole, fresh foods with it will help remove the harmful effects of the toxins as well.

Two Fish on Friday?

There is no law that says we have to only purchase one type of fish for a weekday dinner. As long as you are buying fillets, they tend to be the same size and require the same cooking time. I seem to be on a roll with bad photography at the moment so I might as well post this one.

fish

This is a fillet of pickerel (Ontario local) and a fillet of Arctic Char. I will often do some organic salmon or black cod as well. It keeps the cost lower as both of these are very expensive fish. But we still all benefit from eating the “good stuff” without breaking the budget.

PS. These fillets are rinsed and patted dry. They sit on a bed of sliced onion, fennel, garlic and mushrooms with olive oil. They have salt and pepper over top and the juice of half a lemon. They were covered with foil and baked at 375°F for about 35 minutes. We ate them with couscous and steamed broccoli.