Make Over My Mac

September 1st, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I was invited to attend the Mac & Cheese chef competition – the 2014 edition of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook Off held at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto last week. I’d travel far and wide for my cheesy love affair and made the trek on transit. The event didn’t disappoint. I was thoroughly entertained. For me, the winner was my culinary imagination and my tastebuds! Here’s the line-up of entries:

Winner: Crispy Greens Mac & Cheese by chef Andrew Farrell
This entry and competition winner put punched in my pucker featuring four Dutchman cheeses, a very delish dish.

T & T Winner (my choice) (see photo): Dressed Up Wild Mushroom Mac & Cheese by chef David Bohati
My winner’s choice taunted and tantalized my senses with the delicate truffle oil aroma to the creamy and elegant Mornay sauce featuring Sylvan Star Smoked Gouda.

The Goddess Mac & Cheese by Bal Arneson
A smooth take to remake your Mac with an Indo-Canadian twist with silky Poplar Grove Camembert that was truly sophisticated and delightful.

Brooklyn Style Mac & Cheese by “the big cheese” Kevin Durkee
This was no “manga-cake” Mac with the infusion of Italian influences including garlic, herbs, sausage, use of ricotta and Bocconcini that’d make my Mom open to trying it!

This Grate cook off added inspiration to the traditional soulful Mac & Cheese dish we know and love. I make my Mac with some sautéed onions, pancetta with a punch of Asiago and Scooby-doo noodles. I’m poised and ready to try each of these recipes over the coming months. First up though, I’m planning to take a walk on the wild side by trying David’s Mushroom Mac soon.

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Cozy Up

August 29th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Gotta love this time of year. The evenings are cooler while a hint of colour has begun to wash over the leaves. Who doesn’t want to just cozy up? No one, that’s who! Here are some ideas to consider cozying up to:

Try a New Soup Recipe – What’s better than hauling out your old cauldron and trying a new soup recipe? Nothing, that’s what! Try my famous Pasta Fagioli to warm you, fill you and nourish you.

Steep some Herbal Tea – Try a new herbal tea to warm the cockles of your heart. I shared a cup of black liquorice with my friend Carmen recently. It was delightful with more to come!

Read a New Book – Get some inspiring ideas about your love affair with food and activity by reading my ebook Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books and write a review.

Roll Out the Yoga Mat – Make some new moves by cozying up to some new core, butt and glute repetitions. You’ll be glad you did by Christmas!

Deck Out some New Jeans - Gotta love some new jeans to make you feel fab in as the days become cooler to make you look svelte!

Hunker down for the duration and cozy up to the new season a new way.

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Fall Back to Basics – Back to School No Brainer

August 27th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Everything’s so “back to school” these days isn’t it? Everywhere you turn are advertisements, articles in magazines and newspapers, features on the radio. I don’t know but it’s all so last year and the year before and well 10 years before that, even older.

It seems all I ever read about is our society being so time starved coupled with kids who are enrolled in too many activities yet don’t know the basic life skills when they emerge from the teenage wormhole. I read for the umteenth time about “back to school lunch ideas”. Ho hum. Well do I have a lunch idea for you. Let’s get kids to prepare their OWN lunch!

My Mom has had a wondrous ability to set limits and teach my three sisters and me life skills. I remember going to the grocery store with my Mom, cooking and helping in the kitchen with my Mom and even making my own lunch. Really parents, it’s not a big deal. Calling Children’s Aid never crossed my mind all those years ago.

I think there needs to be a paradigm shift getting kids involved in household functions again, don’t you? Instead of running around driving kids to so many activities consider making time to just connect with each other and catch up.

Well parents this fall is a new chapter. Why not start a new trend getting your kids involved in the kitchen. No, you’re NOT mean by taking this step. Actually you’re short changing your kids by NOT getting them involved. Sure, Little Johnny might be able to play the trombone by the time he’s 20, but he won’t know how to make a scrambled egg or a sandwich….

Just like we teach our kids their ABC’s, we also need to teach them how to make a lunch, and oh, not one you order at the drive thru….

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Go Team…. Team Darko’s Best Tournament Yet!

August 25th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Another year has come and gone. That special nephew of mine who’s part of Team Darko organized an even bigger and more successful fund raiser golf event in memory of their fave fab university friend Darko. They pulled up again in their party bus but it was all business as they raised more funds for the Miracle Network.

Mother Nature was threatening rain but lost her battle as the sun peered through the clouds and the butterflies fluttered about while everyone finished the final 9 holes. More teams than ever signed up, played and donated for such a worthy cause.

Can I be more proud of these twenty somethings who seem like they can run this event with their eyes closed and their hearts wide open? I don’t think so! It warmed my heart to see so many people take part from near and far. It was terrific to see these kids form families of their own as they grow in number as the circle of life turns. With these types taking charge our future is bright as they lead our society as our new “We Generation”.

Thanks Team Darko for inspiring me, yet again, this fine summer’s weekend. I salute you all. And remember “No giving up EVER!” DD

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Rhyme Time Friday – Feeling Sunk?

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Feeling sunk?
And in a funk

Don’t despair
Life’s not alway fair

Call a friend
Don’t pretend

To take it on
Like it’ll just be gone

There are many ways
Your spirits raise

Family’s there
To help and care

Why go alone?
Pick up the phone

A ray of light
To lift your sights

Think positive
Not causitive

Flower or song
To help what’s wrong

Always look up
And get unstuck….

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On the rebound?

August 20th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , ,

I was poking around the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) website recently reviewing some study findings about the successful losers and well those who aren’t necessarily in that category.

One of the studies was about a topic most of us hate to hear about and that’s weight rebound after losing… ug. Researcher McGuire and company looked at weight, behaviour and psychological information of study subjects from the NWCR. Risk factors for weight regain included a more recent weight loss, larger losses, higher levels of depression, dietary disinhibition (a tendency to overeat in the presence of palatable food or when stressed) and binge eating.

I got to thinking about all of this more deeply, hmmmmm. Embarking on a weight loss regimen is a grand commitment and should never be taken lightly. In our personal hierarchy of needs we should not try to add insult to injury thinking that “when I’m slim my problems will melt away with the pounds”, in fact you can create more stress if you’re not ready. Challenges happen to all of us no matter our jean size.

What stands out for me on this is the importance of facing eating and stress issues, binge eating and depression from the outset. Those factors are surely the elephant in the room, not food or your weight. I reveal my own journey details in my e-book Skinny on Slim that you might just relate with.

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Twitter Tattler – Sweet Goodness Give Me Fruit!

August 18th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I was doing my daily scanning of the Twittersphere recently and read a tweet from a woman’s magazine about sugar and fruit, good grief. My eyeballs get frosted when this sort of negative messaging about amazing food gets airtime. What gives?

The author discussed high and low sugar levels in various fruits and even dared to mention some having as much sugar as a candy bar. Ya I know that sugar is the new villain on the block these days, but the last thing we want is for people to cut down on fruit because of it when it possesses so much goodness.

We all know that added sugar is in a variety of packaged foods and drinks and having too much of the white stuff isn’t a good thing. That’s what we need to cut back on, NOT fruit.

Before setting out to write this segment I took a snack break and washed a bowl of cherries, ahhh. How I love cherries in season. The first sighting of them in the grocery store makes my heart skip a beat with glee. That article noted 4 fruits with higher sugar content – cherries, figs, mangos and grapes. First of all folks I never judge any one food using 1 parameter, such as calories or sugar unless that’s all it contains. Mother Nature’s candy IS fruit and each type does contain natural sugar but so much more goodness in its natural form it’s ridiculous.

Cherubic Cherries – Take cherries for example they’re a good source of vitamin C and fibre and have shown they can alleviate inflammation. I love how these are eaten, one juicy morsel at a time around the seed, one by one. They can’t be gobbled down mindlessly or you could crack a tooth if you’re not careful.

Fabulous Figs - Then there are figs. I have fond memories of my Dad nurturing a fig tree in our yard growing up. These provide a good source of fibre plus iron, calcium and potassium plus polyphenols. I love enjoying figs on an antipasto platter or for dessert.

Magnificent Mangos – These are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A which can promote healthy skin plus benefit immune function. I enjoy sweet succulent mango in one of the lunch salads I have most days.

No Griping About Grapes – Lastly the grape is an excellent source of vitamin C, K and manganese with polyphenols. They’er a perfect snack – so portable, so tasty perking up your taste buds naturally.

I would never in a million years steer clear of these four fabulous fruits or any other for that matter. And neither should you. I don’t see any nutritional benefit from candy bars which were compared to some of these foods from the gods. Fruit helps fill you, taste delectable and are inherently lower in calories than other foods. They serve as an excellent snack and are my first line of defence for my hunger strategy offence. Enjoy all fruit each and every day.

I add mixed berries to my morning oatmeal, enjoy a banana mid morning, plus a seasonal fruit during late afternoon’s “witches hour” that tides me over to dinner time. I add fruit to salad to punch up the flavour.

Choose Mother Nature’s candy – fruit throughout your day. I discuss a Fab Four Food Changes to make in my ebook, Skinny on Slim the Little Black Dress of Diet Books. Check it out.

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Shrinking Spirits

August 15th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Wine
May be divine
In the good ole summertime

Port
May give support
After dinner on your porch

Beer
May make you cheer
While sitting out by the pier

Alcohol
Awareness overhaul
Before it overcomes us all

Consideration
For moderation
Food for thought & contemplation

Take a sip
Between your lips
Just cut back a little bit

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Summertime Scoop – Feeling Sandwiched?

August 13th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Feeling sandwiched at lunch? Want to branch out from ordering one daily? Here are some ideas to tantalize your taste buds, help you change it up and fill you up but not let you down by overdoing it! Each of these ideas includes food from at least 3 food groups with a extra dose of veggies that adds taste and crunch, plus helps fill you up to catapult you into your afternoon feeling energized!

These choices help steer you away from deep fried choices, mayo galore and salty/sugary sauces and dressing.

You may have a hankering for a snack in the afternoon, so reach for some fresh fruit as your first line of snacking defence. Check these out:

Go East, FAR East – Try Japanese chicken or beef teriyaki that gets made when you order it asking them to limit the soya sauce over plain rice. This custom lunch choice provides protein a few servings of veggies with grains. Great to enjoy over 2 workdays!

Don’t be a Geek & Try Greek – Try hummus and pita with a side Greek salad sprinkled with feta cheese.

Bella Italia – Choose a single pizza slice topped with veggies and single cheese with a mixed green salad on the side or minestrone soup containing beans and pasta in the broth.

Say Ole to Mexican – Check out the burrito. If the serving size is 12” cut it in half and save the other half for tomorrow or split it with a friend.

Belly Up to the Bar… The Salad Bar – On a bed of greens ensure a quarter of your plate is filled with protein choices, such as chic peas, kidney beans, lentils, nuts & seeds and hard-boiled egg. Not a lover of a bed of greens? Choose other veggies either fresh or vinaigrette choosing a rainbow of colours (tomato wedges, cucumber slices, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, coleslaw, 3 bean salad, Greek salad, carrot slaw). Add grain salads like quinoa or wheat berry to the other quarter of the plate. Use olive oil and balsamic to punch up the flavor. This combination fills you up and sustains you for the afternoon. If you don’t balance your plate out with enough protein and whole grains you’ll be hungry in an hour.

You Still Looking for a Man-wich wanting a sub? - Choose a 6” sub instead of the foot-long with veggies and cheese topped with a wide array of veggies.

While you’re at it, review Chapter 9 “Facing Routine Curveballs and Challenges”, and “Work Life” (eating) Balance for more ideas about lunch at work in my e-book, Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

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Who’s Retiring Anyways?

August 11th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , ,

Someone I know is conspiring
That they might consider retiring
Has worked a long time
Many achievements have shined
Inspiring many behind him

He believes that anything’s possible
Stays the course, and is always unstoppable
Has made a huge mark
Is a remarkable spark
To all that are all around him

Has a way to make you get better
His approach is always unfettered
Helps you rise to new heights
Using all of your might
Never taking the credit because of him

Has learned to have his priorities straight
Which for me is absolutely great
Work/life balance is fine
Our life together is so divine
Special times just being with him

This person I know can’t retire!
Just shift gears of his inner bonfire
Not able to slow down
Always runs fully wound
Boundless energy with more ahead of him

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