Archive for February, 2011

Lovin’ Spoonfuls

February 14th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

With Valentine’s Day upon us it got me doing more thinkin’ about lovin’. This time about lovin’ spoonfuls. When I think of lovin’ spoonfuls I got thinking about the pleasure we get from the food we eat, yet again. MmmmmMmmmMm how’s that food for thought!! It also got me thinking about doing a bit of scaling down on the size of utensils we use and the importance of chewing slowly.

As the pace of our lives gets faster and faster it’s easy for that speed and super-sized shovel to work overtime right into the old pie-hole. I think we should all have a reality TV camera crew follow us around to just focus in on the lovin’ spoonfuls going down the ole chute. I’m sure the cameras would catch our eating on the run, eating with distractions, cleaning our big dinner plates to the last crumb and every lovin’ spoonful inbetween.

I love focusing on non-food related behaviours and activities that in time have a direct impact on our weight. I find trying to use a smaller fork and spoon makes me slow down a bit doing a full “how do you do?” with my sensation of taste, satiety and cuing in the senses. I have talked about the extensive work of Brian Wansink on April 5 and if you need a refresher give it a read. And if you haven’t, buy his book as well. I’m sure you’ll us it as a refresher along with T & T as you seek new ideas that are straight forward to embrace.

Taking smaller spoonfuls will get you to want to get more out of the food you’re eating with double the joy as a result. So take some time and check out the size of your spoons. And while you’re at it do the same for your forks and plates and dial the size down a notch. It’s one sneaky way to help you get more satisfaction out of your food and eat less to boot. Your pie-hole will smile back and thank you.

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What’s Love Got to do With IT?

February 13th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

It’s only fitting with Valentines Day upon us to talk about love and food. I don’t know about you but they go together better than Romeo and Juliet, don’t you think?? It’s difficult to separate the emotion of love from food. Do I need provide more context and remind you again that I’m Italian?? Oh right!!

When we entered the world we were bundled, fed, loved and nurtured. Hour by hour, day by day, year by year as these interactions have unfolded our repertoire of eating habits morphed. We have all experienced a knee scrape as a kid, then having the tears dried away with a cookie or a lolli-pop.. Who hasn’t right?? If you wonder why you might use food as a knee-jerk reward when you feel low, it’s no surprise. As adults though we can tease these associations out and eventually learn to eat by detaching some of these deeply ingrained eating associations. And in time forming a healthier relationship with food.

As important as it is to sort out these eating associations, I wouldn’t strip away all emotion. It would be inhumane don’t you think? It would help to establish a healthy balance just like everything else. Although we do eat to exist, it is such a joy and reward in itself it would be ashamed to treat it solely as such.

I got to thinking about food and love more deeply though, hmmmmmm. And the notion of respect bubbled to the surface. Respect in a relationship with people or with our food, is such an important ingredient. I’ve written about a healthy eating relationship on May 2 and it holds true, to the max. I think our society has lost respect for food though, when you think of it. For example, I think it’s very UN-funny that Starbuck’s for introduced a 31 ounce size drink. I don’t think our stomach can even hold that amount of fluid. Super-sizing to ridiculousness is so mainstay. What happens when we consumers stuff ourselves so full without being in touch with our cues is a huge sign of disrespect to ourselves.

Our eating relationship is certainly something worth working on. I have many fond food loving memories from savouring my Mom’s famous meatballs to my Grandma’s fried chicken to Mother Dearest’s perogies. From the simlest breaking of bread to the most complex dish, choose to love and respect your food.

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Food Revolution Roast Chicken Little

February 10th, 2011 1 Comment Tags: ,

Gotta love a roast chicken dinner. It’s so easy to make and yummy to eat with different combinations of vegetables. I love the aroma of the kitchen when roasting. It’s smells like lovin’.

If you are carnivorous and eat meat add this to your weekly or monthly family menu. Try roasting a larger bird and use the leftovers as another dinner or in another recipe, like the Food Revolution Pasta Salad posted on August 11 or the Quesadilla’s posted July 14. Leftovers also make a great sandwich meat for lunches. You just need to pay attention to a few important details, but truly, this is so easy to make.

Instructions

Fully defrost the chicken before preparing it to roast. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Wash out your sink and counter surface rinsing all suds away before rinsing and cleaning the raw bird with warm water. Remove and discard any chicken inards/gizzards from your chicken’s cavity. Place the bird in your roasting pan, as the photo indicates.

Fill your sink again with hot soapy water and clean any surface or utensil and your hands that the chicken came in contact with. Raw chicken can cross contaminate with salmonella. NOT good. You’ll remove this risk with super clean diligence.

Ensure you know the weight of the bird you’re about to roast.  Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Gingerly pour canola oil over the bird. Below is general roasting time by weight (in pounds). Pay attention to details and it’ll be tender and work out perfectly.

Weight (in pounds)                    Cooking Time (in hours)

2-2.5                                                                    1.5

2.5-3                                                                     2

3-4                                                                       2.5

Ok pop your pan into the preheated oven and allow to roast. Every 40 minutes or so remove the pan from oven and baste the bird with the oil drippings from the bottom of the pan using a spoon.

A chicken is one meat that needs to be fully cooked for food safety reasons, but you don’t want it overdone and dry. Use the time, your eyes and sense to realize it’s properly cooked but not overdone. When you feel it’s looking close to being done gently pull a leg (really, I’m not pulling your leg!!) and watch the juices flow from under the skin. When the juices are clear and the meat is juicy and light brown it’s finito and ready to serve. If the juices are murky looking and even have traces of redness along with the meat put it back in the oven until cooked.

I sometimes buy rock cornish hens and cook these as an alternative to chicken. They’re perfect for a solo meal or if you have company over and want a festive dinner without the need to carve a larger bird. Everyone can feast on their own.

When push comes to shove and you’re stuck for time, pick up a roasted chicken at your grocery store on your way home. They’re often well priced and are so good for you, compared to stopping at the drive through of super fried fast food for your bella familia.

I’ve been making roasted chicken since getting married 24 years and counting and have not yet tried to make a dressing for the bird. If that’s what’s stopping you from trying, make yours dressingless like I do. Ahhh some day…..

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Happy Meal Delivers Unhappy Results

February 9th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There are new study findings released in the The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health indicating evidence that a poor diet associated with high fat, sugar and processed food content in early childhood may be associated a lower IQ. Well do ya think?? We’ve already heard that this generation of kids may not outlive their parents. It’s unfortunate that we need to be hit on the head with a two by four to begin to sit up and take heed.

Humans are complex biological beings. All the talk about needing a healthy diet isn’t full of bunk, but full of wisdom based on science. We need the proper balance of protein, fat and carbs along with all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber and water to function optimally. There’s no foolin’ Mother Nature folks. This is a fundamental of our existence. We may be able to use a cheap battery as an energy source for little Suzy’s Chatty Cathy. But I wouldn’t be taking any shortcuts with little Suzy.

How often are busy parents swayed to give in to kids whims?? Food is one of those areas that kids weigh in on loud and clear in many households. Kids; however, lack the knowhow about what’s really good for them, especially at a young age. I wrote about setting limits with kids October 18, 2010 and I stand by that to today in spades. I’m not suggesting starting a battle-central on the topic. All foods can fit, but it’s about balance. You can achieve middle ground on this, but like all aspects of kids’ lives, parents need to advocate for what kids need, first and foremost. Who wants to mess around with a kid’s IQ? No one, that’s who!

I don’t think we need to do a study of this kind on adults though. I would expect we’d get the same results – a lower IQ with a higher consumption of highly processed food. I don’t know about you, but as my brain cell count diminishes as I age, I at least want what’s left to be functioning at full tilt. So, create a happy ending by redefining your happy meal.

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Haute Cuisine – Common Scents

February 8th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

My funny little valentine took me to a special restaurant while in Chicago. A sort of, pre-Valentines treat. How wonderful! Alinea is a place where art, fashion, design, food and technology collide to raise the likes of food for mere mortals to food for the Gods. As our senses were tantalized course after course giving every tastebud a workout, I got to thinking about food and our sensory experience with it. Or perhaps in this era our lack of it.

Research has shown through the ages that consumers value taste as the most coveted factor affecting food choice, over many other aspects of it. When we stand back though it seems our lives are hardwired to rush rush rush thus leaving our ability to actually taste, sense and experience what good food has to offer to a minimum. I have written about eating slowly many times by now usually in the context to have our satiety cues register fullness. However, slowing down our eating also allows us to get the full potential out of eating’s full sensory experience.

Before Christmas I was in Munich for a few days and found myself in a fast food joint for the sole purpose to use their internet connection. Two doors down was an authentic German bakery with a full offering of the finest breads you can dream of. At times when I looked up from my computer I couldn’t help observe people wolfing down this ultra processed food in place of the real stuff a few doors down. I thought, what a shame!

I honestly believe if there was a National Eat Slowly Month, this could spark our taste buds and eating experience to the point where we might shift the food we choose to the more natural, tasteful variety. Well, that’s if people wean themselves off the addictive nature of some of this highly processed food which will eventually alter what our bodies cravings and taste bud demands.

Consider celebrating your own National Eat Slowly Month. You don’t need to try Haute Cuisine to get the full sensory experience of the food you eat every day. But if you want to, then go for it!! Mmmmm that crunch of a Granny Smith apple, the warmth of hot soup on a cold day, the aroma of mixed exotic spices in your tangine, the sweet pop when noshing on a pomegranate – whatever you choose to eat, slow down and savour it. Enjoy it to the max! By focusing in on the aspect of food we love most might help the chips fall into place when it comes to eating better. Cheers!!

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Menopausal Moment

February 7th, 2011 No Comments

Ahhh yes I now know why the word “pause” is in the word “menopause”…. It’s because you lose your trend of thought more than you would actually like to admit when you’re going through it. At times you forget what you were saying altogether, sometimes even in the middle of a sentence. Good thing my friends and colleagues are keen listeners – mostly, because when I stop and say “what was I saying”, they will usually help me out and fill in the gaps to help jog my memory. Oh the pause….

Yes aging – you lose your trend of thought, your car keys, your pin number, your password, your purse – hmmmm maybe I didn’t bring it with me. You sometimes put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. Hey, is one leg rougher than the other?? I guess I shaved the right one and forgot the left. Good grief.

I think those innovators at 3M have our backs though with the many different kinds of sticky notes, that serve as reminders. I need to; however, not to be too brief with my note to myself or I’ll forget what the short form stands for. Also if I write it too small and I don’t have my glasses I can’t read what it says, because my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be – oy oy oy.

With the surge of interest in yoga for we middle-agers I now see why everybody’s saying “ummmmmm”. They’re trying to remember what it was they forgot!!

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Miracle Modes Creating Momentum

February 6th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Miracles come when you least expect it. They can be small or they can be big, but if you look long and hard enough you will surely find them. Trust me!! As I watch the Superbowl, momentum is clearly a phenomenon that can create miracles. It’s an intangible life force that can create tangible results. It got me thinking about some important things we can do in our everyday lives to help create a positive momentum that might bring on a miracle. Listen UP!

Breakfast Bravado – A day without breakfast is like a day without sunshine. Successful losers swear by it as one of the most important factors for weight loss and maintenance. A balanced breakfast including 2-3 of the food groups can catapult you into a scrum of a day with it’s positive momentum to help you get ahead by paying special attention to this very meal.

Start a Movement Movement - Our bodies were built to move, not morph into couch-potato-dom. The benefits of starting a movement movement is vast from simply burning more calories, strengthening muscles, getting toned, clearing your mind and upping your endorphins. A free drug rush that leaves you feeling like you can conquer the world.

Up with Down Time – It’s funny how a mini recharge of your battery with a little rest or time out in the day can provide a boost to get through most any challenge you might face. And by a rest doesn’t necessarily mean you need yet another caffeine boost. Too many of those can negatively affect your sleep pattern.

Looking Good - Feeling Better – Paying special attention to looking your best can chug you through the day with zest to be your best.

Getting Your Zzzzz’s – All burning a candle at both ends does is create a fire. Cutting into precious sleep time makes you less effective in life quality and performance overall. Make getting your full night’s sleep a priority.

You can be mindful of the momentum you can choose to include in your day to bring on some miracles. Don’t sit back on your laurels and wait for them to arrive. Do something to help them land in your lap.

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Moroccan Moment – Tangine Dreamin’

February 3rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I am Tangine dreaming on this fine winter’s day. I vowed I would move my cheese and try something new to spice things up in my kitchen and gosh darn I did it. I found myself stuck in a rut of sorts making the same stuff and I have pulled myself out in some small way. We picked this Tangine pot up with a gift certificate from Santa and did some culinary culling by trying some new dishes.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves thinly sliced

1.5 lb lamb fillet cut into thick pieces

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground cilantro (coriander)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup pitted chopped dates

1.5 cups water

Instructions

  • Heat half of the olive oil in the Tangine base on medium heat. Fry the onion, fennel and garlic until they are beginning to brown. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining oil and heat, then brown the lamb evenly. Then add in all of the spices and cook for one minute.
  • Return the veggies you just cooked to the Tangine base, then add the dates and half of the water. Stir well.
  • Cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally for 3 hours or so. The spices will thicken the liquid as the dish cooks.
  • After half the time elapses add in the remaining water, little by little, if needed.
  • May serve on a bed of rice or couscous.

Commentary

After scanning a few simple recipes for this Moroccan way of cooking I found my spice collection devoid of tumeric and cilantro; however, I did have cumin, marjoram, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. They’re not needed all in one dish mind you, so take heart. Basic recipes have ingredients that I love, such as chic peas, pitted dates, tomatoes, zucchini and trusty, potatos, garlic and onion either meatless or with beef, chicken or lamb. With a few new spices and a mess of fresh ingredients I feel like I’m off to the souk of sorts.

Mmmmm the aroma of this dish with the exotic spices surely fills up my senses on this fine winter’s day as it slow-cooked on my stovetop. I made a whole-grain rice accompaniment and voila dinner-with-a-twist was ready as the bad moon rose.

I love the notion of embracing a new culture and cuisine. It’s enriching trying something new and moving out of your cooking circle of security. This new fangled cooker may just get me organized earlier in the day than usual, and will do the cooking for me as I charged head first into my day.

Anyone for a mint tea or a Belly dancing afterward??

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Meal Moments – Food Values & Thoughts

February 2nd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Whether we want to believe it or not, a lot of our family values and belief systems come it to play when we choose our food. Do we eat meat or choose not to? Do we try to eat less processed foods? How about fast foods? Do we dig into our wallets and choose organic? And how about local fare, even in the dead of winter? It’s really not all that straight forward when you delve right into it.

As I said yesterday and many times, there are a thousand ways (or more) to do the same thing right. And this adage pertains to food choices in spades. I did my workout to Oprah the other day when she featured vegan eating. It was an interesting interplay listening to a non-nutritionist, author speak about “leaning into the vegan diet” and others like Michael Pollan who choose not to. Both are right…..

I totally understand why some people choose to go vegan even though I choose not to. One of the segments in the grocery store left me scratching my head however. They accumulated a grocery cart full of packaged and processed food….say what?? “Well if you want something that tastes like cheese try this tapioca (thing-a-ma-jig) and if you want a burger replacement try this, and if you want something that tastes like chicken, try….” How about try some chicken?? If you’re body’s calling out to you with a food craving, I say answer the call. Don’t you??

It appeared that the halo effect of vegan eating was overshadowed by the multitude of fake, processed food. What gives?? I wrote about Faking It on July 9 and I stand by that today. Firstly, I don’t take advice from someone who’s not an expert, would you?? Maybe your body’s craving a burger because you need an excellent, absorbable source of iron which that food and meat in general provides. Even Michael Pollan stopped the Cum-baya session in it’s tracks.

If you are going to choose ANY new and novel mode of eating I strongly suggest you learn how to get all of the nutrients you require. Plus, ensure you’re getting enough protein as well. If not you’ll be hungry as a wolf and may head down a different not so nutritional path on your journey. While you’re at it, do yourself a favour and make sure you actually like it too? Eating should bring you joy like listening to your favourite music.

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Menu Moments – Putting Food Back on the Menu

February 1st, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Since when has one of the most natural activities in our life – eating, become so complicated. There isn’t a day that goes by when there isn’t a story on the radio, the newspaper, the internet about food – a new study, a micro nutrients, a macronutrients, a diet, instruction on what we’re doing wrong, tips on how to get it right? Holy Mary Mother of God eating’s is now stuck under a microscope like an amoeba and it can’t get out!! Help….

I had company over a few weeks ago and one of our guests complimented me on my infamous green salad (posted June 23) and said “Mmmm are these blueberries? Now what are they high in?” I was going to say “taste” but didn’t want to fail the nutrition quiz being an RD so I answered keenly “anti-oxidants”!! One of my sisters called me the other day needing to discuss what oil I’d recommend cooking with. She clearly hasn’t been up on her T & T reading, but I’ll forgive her!! I got to thinking about how schools have put on the nutritionally pure aura that now sends kids in the bathroom stalls to scarf down a bag of Doritos in shame because of the policing of lunches by teachers. Where is all of this going already??

I think we need to really get back to basics and put food back on the menu. I have said many times, to me, all foods fit. Eating is a time to get nourished, fill you up, reconnect and recharge. It’s not a time for a pop-quiz and confusion. It’s a time to enjoy. There are a thousand ways to do the same thing right. And oh, does that ever apply to eating. If you and I approach food differently and say I’m right, it doesn’t mean that you are wrong. I think we need to decide on what food we’re going to eat and try to be mindful of balance and health, then take it from there.

I feel there’s a lot of finger wagging out there about nutrition and we need to stop the madness. I think there are too many emotions tied up in the eating experience and park all of those as well, except joy. I think our success lies in being in touch with our satiety. And I believe this will come when we get in touch with our food more deeply. Oh the eating on the run, oh the scarfing down, oh the multi-tasking, oh the many distractions. Oh for the love of pete lose all that and get reacquainted with our food. It is then and only then that we will find deep down in our soul what our bodies really need.

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