Month: November 2013

What’s Cooking? Fish ‘n Chips

It’s good to be back in my own kitchen. Even better when the hubby is cooking dinner. Tonight, his speciality. Baked fish and sweet potato fries and a green salad. Everyone loves this meal.

The fish is simple. A couple of fillets (tonight was wild cod) on some sliced red onion and olive oil in a baking dish sprinkled with sea salt and pepper. Baked in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until it flakes easily. 

The sweet potato fries are simple but time consuming. He slices them thin (2 large potatoes are usually enough), then tosses them with olive oil and fresh chopped rosemary. He then bakes them in single layers on a high heat (425 degrees) for about 25 minutes. They need to be watched at this heat though and stirred occasionally. 

Tonights salad included mixed greens and chopped avocado with our usual “house” balsamic dressing.

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Let it snow!

I’m excited to see that the snow has started early this year. Reason being is that I invested in cross country skiis at the end of the season last year and I am eager to try them out. You don’t need more than a walking trail to give it a go.

It’s cold outside but I don’t want to spend the year hibernating. We are fortunate to have the snow and ice to occupy us during the winter months and usually ample space to “play”.

Last year, I took up skating. I’ll never be better than ok, I took it up too late in life to be anything else, but I enjoy the exercise and the fresh air. It’s also great to be able to do an activity with my kids rather than sitting in a freezing arena and watching them.

So let’s embrace the cold weather because at least we can have fun with it.

A new yogurt on the block

I came home to find Liberte Organic Yogurt now has a 0% Greek version. It comes in plain but there are small pots of flavoured if that suits you better.

Greek Yogurt doesn’t come from Greece, it’s simply a process, traditionally using a cheesecloth, that has been used to eliminate they whey (the liquid) and make it more suitable for heating. You need 3 times as much milk to make the same amount of yogurt and consequently it is much higher in protein. It makes it rich and creamy but because it is lower in sugar, it’s a luxury that comes wit the calories.

Change Sucks

It’s no wonder we have so much trouble with losing weight. We eat when we are bored and we eat in anticipation of change, wishing things could just stay the same.

A month ago, I had to deal with change quickly as I hurried over to the UK upon hearing the news of my father’s death. Venturing into the unknown, I was nervous and anxious and more prone to pick up food and eat it without giving it much thought. Instead I craved the comfort it gave me.

Then I adapted. I was busy beyond busy organizing the funeral, seeing old friends and being with my family.

Now, as I head home, I have to anticipate change again. I leave the relative comfort of my parents’ house and go back to my normal day. A time, people tell me, when losing somebody really hits home as you adjust to life without them.

These are all transitions and life is about this. Nothing stays the same, yet we crave that so much (and then get bored of it). Why do we resist it so much? And how can we learn to accept change? We’d all be a lot less stressed and a whole lot thinner if we could do that!

Resisting change is to live in the past. Practicing mindfulness brings us into the present to deal with what is happening right now.
Instead of dwelling on what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. By now you my have found ways to bring mindfulness into your life. It may be breathing, meditating, yoga, running or simply just stopping for a few minutes.

Think about how you adapt to change, if you do at all. Then consider these words by Socrates:
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.

Pink Slime back in the News

After a huge outcry about “pink slime”, the product used as a filler in ground beef for the past decade, the controversy died down and we forgot about it for a while. Now, it’s come up again as one of the 3 main producers of this product declare that “due to consumer demand” their products will be labelled “Finely Textured Beef (FTB)” aka. Pink Slime.

This is welcome news for anyone wishing to avoiding meat that includes this filler – and really, who would openly choose to buy it? – but don’t be fooled into thinking that this will affect your end product. The filler is distributed to grocery stores and manufacturers who, in turn, use it in their products. So, the label declaring it to contain FTB will likely never be seen by the end user. It’s at the stores discretion as to whether they continue the labelling. Although they are encouraged to do so, I can’t see it helping sales in any way – would you pick that up? Therefore, it’s unlikely we will see any change.

Don’t read on if you don’t want to know what Pink Slime is. You’ve been warned!!

Finely Textured Beef (FTB) or more commonly known as Pink Slime is used as a filler or to reduce the overall fat content of ground beef. It is produced by processing low-grade beef trimmings and other meat by-products such as cartilage, connective tissue and sinew,   which contain fat and small amounts of lean beef, and mechanically separating the lean beef from the fat through the use of a centrifuge heated to approximately 100°F (38°C). The heating process liquefies the fat and facilitates the separation of lean beef from the fat and other meat by-products.  The recovered beef material is then processed, heated, and treated with gaseous ammonia or citric acid to kill E.coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. When gaseous ammonia is used, after coming in contact with water in the meat, it forms into ammonium hydroxide. The product is finely ground, compressed into pellets  or blocks, flash frozen and then shipped for use as an additive.
Source: Wikipedia

What do I do with …… Cranberries

It’s hard for me to write about cranberries. I’m not a fan. It’s a very North American fruit that I didn’t come across too much while growing up in England.

It is, however, huge at this time of year. As we approach American Thanksgiving, the Christmas season will officially kick off on Friday and cranberry sauce, jam, juice, jelly and Cosmo cocktails will be out in force.

This has been mainly due to marketing. It’s a berry like anything else but is a hard sell due to it’s acidic taste and low sugar content. It’s touted as having many health benefits but these would require the berries to be eaten raw or at least unsweetened. I’ve drunk unsweetened cranberry juice to counter a UTI in the past. It didn’t help and it was very difficult to drink. 95% of the cranberries sold in North America are already sweetened and processed into ready-to-eat foods. These added sugars and high heat kill off any beneficial properties, not to mention having a detrimental affect on your weight loss efforts.

Cranberries certainly don’t contribute to being a weight loss aid. Dried cranberries are almost always highly sweetened to make them palatable and we already know that juice isn’t a good idea when trying to lose weight. A bit of jelly with the turkey at Christmas won’t hurt but the best way to eat cranberries are to eat the fresh ones. They are abundant in stores now. Using a few at a time, mix them with sweeter fruit such as frozen summer berries. Throw a few into your smoothie or add a few into a pancake or muffin recipe to create a seasonal dish.

The best thing to do with the remaining cranberries you find in the store, the processed kind is …… to leave them on the shelf.

Toppings for Greens

We all need greens in our diet but it’s hard when you struggle to eat them. Adding toppings can totally change the flavour so you can really enjoy your food and benefit from these wonderful vegetables at the same time.

Steam the greens for 2 minutes, drain them and toss them with any of these toppings:

– Sliced mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil until browned. Add 1 tbsp of chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a slash of balsamic vinegar. Cook for 1 more minute before mixing with the greens.

– Saute 3 cloves sliced garlic with 1 cup drained and diced no salt added canned whole peeled tomatoes in 2 tbsp olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup shredded parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

– Toast 1/4 cup pecan or walnut pieces in a skillet until browned. Add to greens with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

– Saute a large sliced onion in 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet until golden brown and caramelized, approximately 10-15 minutes. Season with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. This goes well with the toasted nuts above.

– Whisk together 2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tbsp tamari and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds and 2 tsp grated fresh ginger.

Ideas adapted from The Healthy Cook at Nutrition Action Newsletter