Archive for May, 2011

Food Revolution Putanesca Sauce

May 17th, 2011 1 Comment Tags: , ,

At my husband’s request, my sister made this amazing sauce for Good Friday dinner, making it an EXRA-Good Friday!! I love company who not only partake in a family meal but who pitch in as well. As a hostess, I welcome all the help I can get and never feel too proud if someone offers to bring something. Bring it on!! It’s even better when it tastes so good with leftovers to spare!!

Ingredients
12 plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
9 scallions, chopped
3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
3/4 cup black olives, finely chopped
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound of spaghettini or capellini pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)

Instructions
Puree the tomatoes and set aside. In a large frying pan over moderately high heat add oil and saute garlic and scallions until softened. Add sun-dried tomatoes, olives, artichokes and continue to saute for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and prepared tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Stir to mix well, reduce heat to moderately low and let simmer for about five minutes, then remove from the heat.

About 20 minutes before meal-time cook pasta in boiling water until al dente (about 5 minutes or so). While this is boiling heat your sauce up to a simmer. Once the pasta is done and drained add to your sauce and serve. May add parmesan cheese depending on your preference.

Commentary
There is an explosion of flavour with every mouthful.  This sauce will make plain ole pasta into a blue ribbon winner. Feel free to make this the day before serving and refrigerate until you need to warm it up. May also make a larger batch and freeze to use too.

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London By the Pound

May 16th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I found myself in London recently and realized eating and activity efforts can get hi-jinxed as fast as you can say Piccadilly Circus if you don’t have your wits about you!! There’s a lot to take in from the sights to the culture, but you can get caught in an eating vortex as the Duchess of Fork with the cuisine by spending less energy out than in if you’re not careful.

For starters, an English breakfast sounds so benign. After a platter of bangers, beans, eggs, bacon and a stack of toast you’ll need to walk up and down The Thames to balance that energy equation. Add some pasties, fish ‘n chips, sweeties plus cake and coffee and there’ll be a high exchange rate to be paid by the pound when you get home.

It’s a great walking city to venture from the London Bridge and Tower, to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, Notre Dame Cathedral, to Buckingham Palace then Trafalgar Square back to Covent Garden and over to St. Paul’s Cathedral. That’ll get your booty in shape and work off some of that breakfast. Yes all of the food options are grand but who wants to ruin it all with too many scones and clotted cream, not to mention the shortbread??

Set your eating mindset to stun by realizing there are many joys of travelling not only the culinary ones. Trade off, trade off, trade off. Take yesterday for example I got lost in retail heaven in the Desigual store. From the music to the creative couture to friendly staff – who needs to eat when you’re in the middle of a shopping stupor?? Nay nay I say!! When you have a new swish outfit you’ll surely want to fit into it once you arrive back home.

London by the pound can get you right in the pocket book AND the hip pockets if you don’t have your eating-thinking cap on. It doesn’t have to be that way though if you put some thought into it right out of the gate….. at the airport.

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Chow Bella – Approach of the Mediterranean Diet

May 15th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I read that Penelope Cruz got her figure back after having her second baby by adopting the Mediterranean Diet and dancing, hmmmmm. This regimen written about April 17 and 28, 2011 is more of a pattern than a diet, per se, that’s easy to adopt and has a wide variety of terrific food.

It includes plenty of plant foods with some animal protein that inherently have a limited amount of saturated fat depending on what you choose. There is little processed food and it’s high on fresh, local fare. Meals are high on veggies and fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds with a dash of olive oil and whole grains, pasta and cereal with smaller amounts of protein such as fish, chicken, meat, cheeses washed down with a glass of wine – sante!

As I previously mentioned the pattern includes an easy, enjoyable pace for mealtime respecting the food and cook all the while. There’s no woofing down a meal or eating while watching the boob tube, for instance, not to mention eating on the run or buying food from a drive-thru.

It’s food glorious food on this regimen. You still need to be watchful though of your quantities. As I’ve said before, olive oil may be considered a “good fat” but the glug, glug, glug of the olive oil jug still adds over 120 calories/Tablespoon to your food. Like any regimen all calories count so there’ll be no throwing caution to the wind on this or any plan.

If you’re thinking about adopting a better way of eating consider transitioning to a Mediterranean diet. Ciao bella!!

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Gender Bender – Sweet or Salty

May 12th, 2011 No Comments Tags:

Well here’s a gender bender for you: we always thought “sugar and spice and everything nice” was what little girls are made of, right? A new study is out in the Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine On-line reporting that if moms-to-be eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and rice – which is rich in calcium and magnesium, a month prior to conception they are more likely to have a little girl.

What’s the “secret diet recipe” for making a boy then, eating foods with chipotle sauce, mesquete, with a shot of Santa Fe Southwest? Well, kind of. They found the diet for “making a boy” a month prior to conception was consuming a diet rich in potassium and sodium.

Well all of this got me thinking, hmmmmm. Studies tracking dietary intakes in many countries on the globe show such an excess of sodium intake it’s mind boggling. Why then is it not “raining men”?? We should have a “boy epidemic” on our hands, don’t you think?

I say eat a balanced diet in moderation and be happy with what you get :-)

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Cracked UP Over Almonds

May 11th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I started writing about the benefits of nuts on April 21, 2011. I feel that nuts get a bad wrap by those ultra-diet conscious folks. I divulged that I happily reintroduced them into my diet some time ago after a long hiatus off them. Shame on me. I now have a segment of one of my storage cupboards chocked full with a variety of nuts and seeds that I use in salads and baking. I am not loyal to any one nut and have an “all inclusive”, salt-free, moderate approach, like most things.

Almonds are inherently naturally nutrient rich, loaded with vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, fibre and are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fat plus protein. This special combination puts these in the hearty healthy AND weight conscious category with myriad of benefits.

I am not however an advocate for those “almond” beverages that people use as a milk replacement, unless you have a known allergy. There are some food groups, such as dairy products that ought not be avoided using a poor substitute.

Notable studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Follow-up Study showed those who ate the most nuts tended to have lower body mass indexes. Hmmmmmm. Although almonds are high in fat and calories, eating them in moderation can actually help with weight loss

So have some almonds on hand in your “nut artillery” and they will provide you a world of good.

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U-Turn on Salt – Maid of the Marinade

May 10th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I am building on the theme of making a U-turn on using excess salt started on April 20, 2011 to help us get into the habit to use less. You know it’s much easier to “break the shake” habit when the new tips and habits still create lovin’ spoonfuls of tasty food.

This week let’s get our head around marinading our main course meat, fish and poultry. We might be used to using those super salty rubs as we break into the bar-be-que high season. A few weeks ago we had a weeknight chicken fajita extravaganza that was high on flavour and low on salt. This recipe was posted on April 29, 2010 and it’s a real crowd pleaser. Approved seal of approval my my grown up nephews and niece.

I like to mix up the marinade the day before to heighten the taste further. The lime juice in this marinade packs a pucker punch making the chicken taste oh so divine. Give this recipe a try and I know you’ll be adding it to your menu cycle as teaser pleaser.

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Roaring Ribs with Pineapple-Mustard Glaze

May 9th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

I have been making these roaring ribs for years now. When I serve them I get raves all around. I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit mag back in July 1992 with the theme “The Good Old Summertime”. Archie and Veronica appear on the cover. Remember them?? It warms my heart to remember a blast from the past from the Archie TV show, the comic books and music, eh Sugar Sugar!!

Ingredients
2 pork sparerib racks (I usually bake 6-8)
Season with salt and pepper

Glaze
Low-salt chicken broth
1 12 oz can of frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Wrap each sparerib rack tightly with foil. Arrange ribs on baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool ribs in foil for 1 hour at room temperature.

Open foil and pour juices from ribs into a measuring cup. Degrease juices. If necessary add enough broth to juices to measure 1 1/3 cup liquid. Pour into a heavy medium saucepan and add all ingredients to make the glaze. Boil until this thickens.

Prepare the BBQ at medium heat. Cut ribs racks into 3 sections. Grill until crisp and brown, brushing frequently with glaze about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Commentary
I routinely prepare the ribs and sauce the day before the BBQ. I love serving this with my loving potatoes (February 23, 2011), green salad (June 23, 2010), tomato salad (June 23, 2010) and roasted peppers (March 28, 2011) along with corn on the cob. I served these on Mother’s Day dinner. There wasn’t much conversation around the table as we all enjoyed our first dose of these heavenly BBQ ribs of the season.

My sisters, niece and nephews all contributed to parts of the dinner for our Matriarch. What a great way to host a dinner when everybody helps!!

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Mother of All Roles

May 5th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s no easy feat being a Mother. I have read many times that it’s the hardest job in the world. In fact, I’m sure of it. It should require multiple PhD’s in social studies, psychology, accounting, nursing and the like. The role is definitely 24/7 for your entire life, on little sleep and lots of prayers plus a few rosaries thrown in. AMEN.

It requires stealth hearing capabilities from far distances; a vexing glare that CAN and WILL stop you in your tracks; the ability to give orders through clenched teeth so the receiver can actually comprehend what is being said. You need complex strategizing skills using reverse psychology that works on a foxy 2 year old AND your spouse Yoda-One.

I don’t know if anybody’s ever tried to write a job description for “the Mother role” because it is the Mother of ALL roles! Where on earth would you start? You certainly couldn’t announce it using only 140 characters on Twitter. You couldn’t take out an ad in the New York Times either. It would surely be too long and cost WAYYYY to much money.

I look to this Mother’s Day with warmth, joy and  love in my heart because I am certainly “one of the lucky ones” because I have been blessed with MY Mom. My Mom:

  • Meant “no” when she said “no” and never caved, ever….
  • Made sure we knew how to do stuff around the house so we wouldn’t end up like useless knobs
  • Sent us to lessons to learn all kinds of skills even if we weren’t all that proficient and she made us go outside and play every single day
  • Didn’t allow us to watch the boob tube endlessly, even though we wanted to…well before anyone knew what “screen time” was
  • Engaged us in necessary life-skills of grocery shopping (April 11, 2010), meal prep., making our own lunch (August 19, 2010), laundry, ironing, dishes and the like
  • Didn’t try to be our friend, she had her own…and we needed to behave around them
  • Taught us the value of a dollar and encouraged us to learn how to save money….and a LOT more.

Research tells us over and over that parents including mothers have a vital role to play with the health and well being of their children. I surely know that I have been blessed because of the many important lessons and life skills bestowed on me because of the tough love and the soft love of my Mother. I think Oprah should give my Mom a TV show on OWN featuring her with her wooden spoon teaching the world how to set limits with kids. Hey, it worked for me and my sisters….pretty much….

How fortunate I am to be one of the lucky ones receiving enduring love and support from my Mom through the ages. I am truly thankful for her consistent love and steady hand at the helm all of my life…..still……

Thank you Mom – I love you!!!!

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Cooking with Loretta – Food Revolution Fab Fruit Salad

May 4th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

Ok so here’s the ultimo dish Loretta made for desert as the recipes have been posted over the past four weeks. Ahhh, fresh fruit salad – what a nice way to end a lovely meal. Give this a try. So simple and so savoury!!

Ingredients
peeled and cut up orange (skins removed), including juice
peeled and cut up ruby red grapefruit (skins removed), including juice
green seedless grapes
purple or black seedless grapes
a splash of Alize Red Passion liqueur (optional)

Instructions
Prepare the fruit ahead of time and add all ingredients to the bowl and stir. Keep in the refrigerator until the main course is being served so it’s not too cold.

Commentary
Loretta and I are two fifty year olds who may have temperature sensitive teeth!! Nonetheless, it tastes better by serving this at room temperature. I’d love to have this fruity sensation any old time in my fridge. It was a taste explosion with sweet, sour, tarte and juicy in each lovin’ spoonful. She served some nice orange chocolate and biscuits on the side as an accompaniment. I had mint tea while she had espresso with some Sambuca. A perfect way to end a lovely meal!

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Latest Diet Fad – Dukan? or Dukan-NOT!!

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

Well, well, well, spring certainly has sprung along with a new fad way of eating – the Dukan Diet. Anyone who knows me well enough on T & T already knows what I think about this or ANY fad regimen.

This diet is comprised of 4 phases with catchy names. Each phase if set with specific rules for various periods of time leaving out important foods. These include fruit, healthy fats, cheeses, whole grain anything, let alone anything made with white flour, bye bye pizza. What gives?? Just writing this segment made me pause and go to the refrigerator for a crunchy apple. Ahhh I feel better already and can continue writing…. How could I live without seasonal berries?

I have a deep sense that Dr. Dukan, the man who developed this scheme has probably never tried a fad diet let alone ever needed to lose weight. Perhaps he’s never experienced the anguish of being on a fad diet to lose a bunch of weight, then to gain all of the weight back AND THEN SOME, described in the March 14, 2011 post. If you can smell the stench of a fad, turn around and run. RUN as fast as you can…..even if Pip and Kate Middleton tried this regimen.

What I have found on my own weight journey and for many who have fought “the good fight” on more than one occasion to lose weight in their lives is that life is never that predictable for most people. Your diet regimen needs to fit in with your life. Going “on” a special regimen dictates that you will eventually go “off” it, to your own chagrin. Eating changes should not need to go through unnatural wacky phases like playing a board game. The participant ends up sunk when all has been said and done, feeling like THEY failed, when in fact the DIET failed them….

Ok, let’s look at my own life with food lately for a case in point – I travelled to a conference last week, eating away from home for 4 days. Aside from the “squirrel-like” snacks that I bring in my Mary Poppins bag as my “emergency kit” to get me out of eating jams that I wrote about on the “Business Travel Bupkiss” series on September 14, 2010, I plan on participating in the events, meals included. I had a few “meet and greet” meetings that supplied nibblies plus a splash or two of wine. The conference provided a boxed lunch each day that I had no control over. I partook in a few dining experiences to network – one Italian, one nouveau cuisine, one French and one Greek – all very lovely. I didn’t sit there attempting to stay in ketosis by ordering food not offered on the menu. Worse yet I didn’t refused to miss the event altogether because of a crazy plan and stay in my room. How crazy would that have been? When I came home I went to my Mom’s for dinner being treated to eggplant parmagiana, veal cutlets, penne pasta with spicy tomato sauce, salad and her ever lovin’ home-made date squares. And YES I enjoyed one serving of each.

This weekend I’m hosting Mother’s Day dinner with my bella familia at my house where there’ll be a dozen of us breaking bread together. Yes I said “breaking bread”, not broccoli, not an oat-bran pancake, not a hard boiled egg, not baked sole, not a rubber chicken, but bread. I will serve that among other things. I am also going for a lovely Mother’s Day brunch with Mother Dearest, my mom-in-law. No, I’m not going to dole out the dough and resort to nibbling on an egg white omelette from a lavish buffet – nay nay I say. I’m also going to a shower for a cousin of mine. If you’ve ever gone to an Italian shower there’ll be more on the menu than mini-sandwiches. Trust me on this.

I don’t want to be a downer folks, but right out of the gate I would have been up against some major roadblocks and challenges with this Dukan Plan. When I scan my calendar in the near future, there’s more of the same: I see a long weekend away, some working lunches, more birthday and anniversary celebrations and more functions that include food. Yes, food glorious food.

Ok, ok I know we all want a jump start to springtime slimness and have someone “give us a diet”. What they give us is a rubber stamped plan that sounds tantalizing on paper that isn’t individualized to you, your life, your likes, your abilities. But I don’t want to be the one who tells you “I told you so” when you lose a slew of weight then gain it all back AND MORE like a game of Snakes and Ladders that sends you back 25 steps when you land on a snake…..

If you want to jump start your plan why not up your exercise plan (January 23, 2011) or fine tune what you’re currently doing (November 11, 2011). But don’t shut yourself off from the world and try this or any other trixy plan. There’s no such thing as magic and if something seems too good to be true….it probably is…..

So, you wanna know what I think about this diet: Dukan’t!! And don’t give it another thought.

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