Archive for October, 2011

Halloween Scene

October 31st, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again….I think…. When I ventured to the grocery store yesturday to pick up my Halloween treats I became a bit confused and annoyed with all of the Christmas decorations at the entrance. Ho ho ho, did I have a bottle o rum before I left the house?? I digress…. Yes, it’s Halloween. That time of year to load up on a variety of goodies and give some out to the ghouls and goblins that come around to shell out.

I changed the setting of my doorbell to “Halloween” – my favourite!! There’s a witch’s screech chime, a scary ghost, a warewolf (I think), a honking horn, a gong and more. Anyone who knows me understands that it doesn’t need to be Halloween for me to sport orange – one colour I will certain wear today :-)

It’s a good day to loosen the noose on your candy eating rules just a tad, after all this day only cometh once per year, thank goodness. I don’t buy the treats until the day before. And for the coming days will accept chocolate as a food group, after which time it will disappear as quickly as it came. Yes I will put up with the sound of wrapper crinkling the next few days until I put a lid on all of the excess sugar sensations.

It’s important to strike a realistic balance allowing all foods to fit even the candy coated kind. When you’re too strict, whether with kids or adults we pine for the stuff to the max. Then when we get it we get hungover not only with a sugar high but a guilt low that lingers in our consciousness. And as women who needs to feel guilt any more that we already do?? So allow it, enjoy it then move on. And whatever you do, don’t get those GD sticky fingers all over the house!!

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Where’s the Beef?? Satiation Nation, That’s Where!!

October 29th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I have spent the better part of my Saturday at bella Nella’s Cucina in Toronto with Canada Beef as the host along with many food bloggers. How lucky am I?? VERY, that’s how! Let me tell you, it was no bum steer, that’s for sure!! Although I’ve been married for 25 years I’ve spent a lot of time giving roasts and no time making any. Go figure!!

We got a lot of juicy details around how to make a roast and more. And I’ll admit, it’s embarrassingly cinchy. Who knew?? Very soon my neighbours will smell the aroma emanate from my kitchen with envy as we dine on these delectable dishes.

I must admit I do crave meat from time to time and I answer that call of Mother Nature. After all, my body must be craving some of those naturally nutrient rich ingredients whether it’s the iron, the myriad of B vitamins and minerals. Beef truly covers the gamut of goodness. Last night’s craving was quelled with a burger.

We sampled various tantalizing recipes from Beef Minestrone, Roast Beef Pinwheels, Rosemary Beef Skewers, Cheesy Beef Stuffed Mini Potatoes and more. One bite here, another bite there, here a bite, there a bite, everywhere a bite bite!! As I drove home with that warm satisfying feeling I was totally satisfied and satiated. I realized that satiation too is an important quality of this protein rich food. As a successful weight loser I don’t like to leave the table with my stomach still pining for more. Beef takes the proverbial cake in that department.

I may talk ’til the cows come home about ensuring you have a balanced diet, touting you get your 5-10 servings of fruits & veggies each day. Do answer that call of the cavernous stomach with an excellent protein source, to bring you to satiation nation. Now when my family asks “where’s the beef?” they’ll know it’s coming out of the oven some time soon….

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Food Revolution – Mother Dearest’s Pea Soup

October 27th, 2011 1 Comment Tags: ,

I was thinking about wanting to try a pea soup recipe, then my Mother Dearest beat me to the punch! She made this one and brought a pot of it over. How great is that?? Even better than if I would have made it myself – that’s how great!! Yes, everyone needs their own Mother Dearest!! But I’m not sharing mine, any more than I already do.

2 1/4 cups (1 pound) dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
8 cups water
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium celery stocks, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 ham bone or 2 pounds shanks
3 medium carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices

Heat peas and the water to boiling in a pot. Boil uncovered for 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 1 hour.

Stir in onion, celery and pepper, then add the ham bone. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 90 minutes or until the peas are tender.

Remove the hambone and cool. Remove the lean ham from the bone and cut in small pieces.

Stir ham and carrots into the soup. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender and soup is the desired consistency. Serve piping hot with a crusty, toasted, whole grain bun.

I have written many times about my adoration for soup. Serve this with a glass of skim milk and your meal is complete. Warms the cockles of your heart.

Ok Mother Dearest, what are you bringing me next?? You know you started something now, don’t you?!! Keep up the good work :-)

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Posted in Food Revolution Recipes, Foodie Fundamentals, Successful Loser Logic | 1 Comment »

Person, Place, Thing

October 26th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Oh people, places and things….studying your habits is an interesting pass time. Take my mat and weight routine for instance; one little thing changes in my daily routine and I fall off the proverbial “mat wagon” until I have to bop myself in the head and start again.

I have divulged in the past that my exercise regimen includes a daily walk (aiming for 7 times/week) and what I call my “mat routine”. This involves stretching exercises, free weights, push ups and ab crunches (aiming to do this 3-4 times/week).

I find if my mat and weights are out of sight finding the few minutes out of my day to do it, makes it out of mind. Depending on the ebb and flow of life throughout the year, I move that mat and weights to where I’ll see them and even trip over them to get this done.

When I’m in hibernation mode I’ll put them in my family room, then other times of the year I’ll put them in my kitchen and other times in my home office. I keep these moving, to help me keep moving. It’s a simple strategy, but one that works and helps keep me on track.

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Staying Well Preserved….

October 24th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ohhhh for the joy of aging healthfully with vibrancy and gusto. For we middle-aged folks, that’s exactly what we yearn for, not wanting to fade into the background of society in frailty by fizzling out. I read about an interesting study that looked at fitness and aging. The findings are very profound, namely “…regular exercise….doesn’t just preserve your ability to exercise as you get older; it also preserves your desire to exercise….”

This may sound odd but exercise is certainly an antidote for inertia, isn’t it?? Gone are the days of the notion that what happens when we age is to turn into an old granny rocking in your chair, knitting, sporting a grey-haired bun. Nay, nay I say!! I know many grannies who you wouldn’t even know were grannies as they participate in aquafit, walking, golfing, bike-riding, jogging, skiing and more.

Being committed to being and staying fit helps tremendously in our everyday participation in life. We can jump in with both feet in those regular activities of daily living to be able to do more whether it’s travelling from A to B, doing usual household chores, doing a hobby or simply not having to opt out of what you’d really like to do, because you are energetic enough to take part.

It’s true what they say “if you don’t use it you lose it”, which is one more reason to keep moving!!

I have a fond memory of this photo of a rock formation in Bulgaria, a place we toured and climbed this summer. There were seniors among us, referred to fondly as “The Golden Girls” who manoeuvred their way just fine….most of us did, anyways and saved room for dessert that evening.

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Getting Easier Over Time – Keep at It!!

October 23rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I believe research findings on successful weight losers to be the holy grail of the weight loss industry. People want magical results and will try extremely crazy schemes which often results in quick weight loss followed by a regain the weight; and sometimes even more. STOP THE MADNESS, it doesn’t have to be so difficult.

I feel so strongly about this issue, I’ve written numerous posts on the topic. There is even a T & T category devoted to “Successful Loser Logic” to help us all make sense of all of the nonsense. Would you take your car to a crack pot repair place with a bad reputation?? We wouldn’t want any less for us either, so let’s stop making the same mistake over and over again.

I just read an article about a study conducted on subjects who lost weight (at least 30 lb) successfully for 2 years or longer. They were asked about their perception of the effort, attention and pleasure associated with weight maintenance. The researchers found that those subjects who maintained weight losses longer used fewer weight maintenance strategies and reported that less effort was required to diet and maintain weight. Overall, there was less attention paid to maintain weight.

Hmmmm when I reflect on this as a successful weight loser myself I realize that, yes, I derive positive reinforcement from eating healthily and exercise. I certainly miss these when the situation dictates I fall off the proverbial wagon – whether on business travel, holiday eating, etc. I also feel the positive behaviours I adopted over time get integrated into my automatic or robotic ways.

Research shows we make over 200 decisions about food and eating every single day, many of which occur when we’re in automatic. When your personal robot is retrained over time to make better choices regularly it may seem like there is less effort to maintain your weight.

It makes me crazy when I read articles about the “battle of the bulge” as if it’s a slog up Mount Doom every day of your life, because it isn’t. Trust me on this folks. Keep at it and in time your robot will reboot itself making the right choices for you more routinely. At the end of the day, nothing feels better than feeling great and healthy. Some food for thought Through Thick & Thin!!

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Nan’s Food Revolution Sougo & Meatballs to DIE For

October 20th, 2011 1 Comment Tags: , , ,

Me and my bella familia call my Mom “Nan”. She makes a sougo to die for and meatballs that send you to Heaven. I have been on the “b-team” in the sougo department for decades now. So after hitting the 25 year of marriage mark, I figured, ok, let’s take it up a notch and have another cooking session with Nan and get it right once and for all!!

pork shoulder, cut meat into chunks, remove visible fat (can use sausage or pork ribs instead)

For Meatballs
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds ground pork
4 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp each salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)
1 Tbsp dried parsley

For Sougo
1/2 cup white wine
3 – 22 oz bottles stewed tomatoes
3 – 400mL cans diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp crushed garlic (or dried pieces)
1 Tbsp sugar

In a large pot (like the one in the photo) add canola oil to the bottom and heat up. Brown the pork pieces and shoulder to 3/4 doneness, then remove, and set aside. Turn the heat off and remove the pot from the hot element.

In a large bowl add all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Using your sparkling clean, sanitized hands combine all of the meatball ingredients until mixed thoroughly. Set the bowl aside and wash your hands.

In the large pot, add the wine and pork shoulder and turn the heat to medium high and allow to simmer 1-2 minutes. Then add all of the ingredients for the sougo and stir; having it reach a strong simmer. Wash and dry your hands again, then roll the meatballs, putting them on a clean plate. Add them gently one-by-one into the simmering sougo to cook. Add the partially cooked pieces of pork, then cover the pot completely and allow to simmer for 1 hour. And voila, Nan’s secret recipe for Sougo & Meatballs to DIE For. Ready to boil up the pasta of your choice, win over family, influence friends and add a proverbial notch to your “cooking belt” like a Michelin Guide Star!!

Funny, I thought our session would be a long complicated, messy affair and it was easier than pie!! It was a great time to catch up together, nab a few of her famous biscotti that I have run out of and learn this family recipe once and for all!!

Indy’s famous last words regarding my cooking prowess many years ago was “…gee, I thought after so many years you’d learn to cook more like Nan…” Ahh yes, spouse’s subtleties. I’ll earn the hero sandwich on this front from this day forward!!

I have enjoyed my Mom’s cooking my entire life. But eating her sougo and meatballs tastes like true loving, like no other dish that only a Mother can give. I’m sure when you give this recipe a try you’ll see what I mean.

Thanks for your help Mom, next stop Braised Ribs :-)

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A-muse Bouche….Few Words on Taste

October 19th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

A “muse bouche” is sometimes served compliments of the chef to tantalize your taste-buds. We amuse our bouches through the many fanciful tastes and textures to heighten the joy of eating. This is of paramount importance to “we the people”. YES, taste is king!!

I have heard so many times that healthily food doesn’t taste good, claiming it’s bland, plain and ho hum. Nay nay I say, au contraire!! Back in “the day” when I was young and chunky “diet food” did taste crummy, I’ll admit. In this modern day and age; however, there has been a food revolution with types of foods, different ways to prepare it, international cuisine and more.

Sure there is a load of junk and fast food that appeals to the senses with the hit of fat/sugar/salt. But fab tasting food can come out of your own kitchen and grocery store too. I have found once you wean yourself off of that processed stuff onto Mother Nature’s fare you don’t keep eating more and more because it’s so good for you.

Check out my Food Revolution Recipe section for starters. There are a multitude of super easy, fast and tasty ideas that you don’t need the highly touted Michelin Star to prepare. When you focus on naturally nutrient rich foods you realize that Mother Nature provides us with tasty morsels. Take this afternoon for instance, I snacked on a plum, a nectarine and a handful of concord grapes. Food for the gods people, that’s for sure.

I think in 2011 we need to leave that old script behind and put it in the recycle bin and tune our taste attitude in already. Think outside of the package or styrofoam container and enjoy!!

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Going with the Grain

October 18th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

For many, thinking about the benefits of fibre is like bringing up that “f” word at a family function. Nay, nay I say!! I prefer to think of the many faces of fibre in a positive light. For me, eating whole grain breads, crackers, noodles and cereals more often simply tastes so much better than the plain stuff.

I have written about ways to get some nuts into your diet which are also a fab source of the stuff. Not to mention beans, peas and lentils plus those fruits and vegetables. Consuming your share of these foods also has a magical quality to fill you up even if you feel like you have a hollow leg. How great is that??

People prefer to avoid talking about the unsocial notion of intestinal motions. Hey we all do it, so why not have more fibre to help “all of your endings be happy ones”!! I found in my late thirties to forties that ole internal system slow down. This also makes your tummy stick out as if you were a marsupial like a kangaroo with a baby in your pouch. Not a sporty look I say.

I revamped my diet to walk the talk on having my share of 5-10 fruits and veggies per day, plus shifted lunches to include a salad selection including beans, peas or lentils and nuts in addition to the whole grains I have loved for years. It made a world of difference on the locomotion of intestinal regularity for ages now, to today.

Ok one word from the wise, I wouldn’t make all of these changes on 1 day, but adopt them gradually to give your system time to adapt. Wouldn’t want you to explode now, would you?? Oh, and make sure you drink your share of water or all of this fibre frenzy will act like concrete and stop you up until New Year’s.

I also read another benefit of getting your fibre; namely having a generous amount may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Not exactly a minor benefit. This too puts an exclamation point on getting more fibre, that’s for sure. So go with the grain, there are so many benefits, you can’t ignore them.

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Food Revolution – SandSquishes

October 17th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , ,

I was invited over for lunch to my ole friend Cara’s a few weeks ago. She made me a few delectable dishes as we got caught up on life. Her daughter, whose alias is Pinkalicious, duly named these fab creations “sandsquishes” because they’re made using a sandwich griller….out of the mouthes of babes…I wish I coined the term.!!

If you’re hearing about “healthy” processed meats while scratching your head in confusion take heart. You can make and serve these up with confidence. They’re as healthy a dish as you can muster for your loved ones AND they taste divine.

1 multi grain bun cut in half
1 washed, pared and sliced pepper (red, orange or yellow)
1 washed, pared and sliced zucchini
2 washed, sliced mushrooms
cheese of your liking (goat’s, cheddar or mozzarella)
olive oil

Prepare the veggies and grill them ahead of time and allow them to cool to room temperature. Turn the heat on your sandwich squisher and allow to heat up according to the instructions. On the outer side of the bun add a small amount of olive oil. Meanwhile prepare your sandwich to your liking with a combination of vegetables with your favourite cheese. Place your sandwich on the heated grille and close the lid until the cheese is melted to ooozing and it is grilled and perfectly squished!! Serve hot.

To me food that’s delish, easy to prepare AND virtuously healthy is the best food of all. I would serve these devils up for lunch or dinner. Thanks again Cara!!

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