Fond Food Memories


two cabbage rolls with tomato sauce on a plate

Boiling cabbage would stink and steam up our 70’s galley kitchen. It was complete with a golden- toned fridge, matching range without an exhaust, pine picnic table and bench style seating, and one rather small window overlooking the yard where believe it or not, our small little rescued dog Sheba would jump up and perch, just like a cat.

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5 fab ways to love beets


You’d think with that burst of crimson colour and the sweet taste,  beets would be the queen of winter vegetables.  How many other vegetable can you think of where you can eat the tops and the bottoms?  Beet greens can be added to  soups or  salads or made into a side dish when sautéed with oil and garlic and the beets can be enjoyed in so many ways.  It’s like getting two vegetables for the price of one.  And apart from the red and golden varieties, you can also get a striped candy cane variety adding more interest and colour to your plate.

Why then, do potatoes get so much real estate on the grocery floor compared to those gorgeous beets? I think it all comes down to not knowing what the heck to do with beets! Learn to love the taste and appreciate the goodness of beets.

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Where’s the fat? Fast foods and sweetened baked goods

Today I participated in a Heart and Stroke webcast for health professionals about dietary fat and heart health. Yes we are still eating too much fat. You could have guessed that. What’s interesting is this. The main sources of fat are fast foods and sweetened baked goods. Together alone they account for  ¼ of the fat in the Canadian diet. It’s not the milk, it’s not the steaks or roasts and it’s not eggs in your fridge. Yes they have fat but they are not the big contributors. Plus, the fat in these wholesome foods comes along with a package of nutrients our bodies can’t make, donuts on the other hand…well you know! This just reconfirms my theory that you really can’t go wrong with whole, minimally processed food.

ps My strategy to avoid the fast food trap is to take 2-3 minutes before heading out to pack snacks to go: pieces of fruit, almonds, hard-boiled eggs (they keep for a week in the fridge), whole-grain granola bar, homemade muffin, cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus.


Three tricks to managing Halloween loot

Is it me, or has Halloween morphed into a week-long orgy of treats and candy? I don’t mind one or two nights of fun, but after a while I just want it to be over. A few things we do at our house to keep Halloween fun but sane:

1) Eating dinner before venturing out — keeps me and my little ghouls from snacking on too many bite-sized treats. Today, I’m going to whip up pizza mummies (thanks to my friend Michelle W. for the inspiration). Spread tomato sauce (or pesto) on whole grain English muffins, tortillas or flat burger buns. Layer on strips of mozzarella. Use sliced olives for the eyes (or sliced grape tomatoes). Just Google it to see a picture — you’ll get the idea in a snap.

2) Choosing two treats for each day of the week — The kids will get to eat their treats after dinner. That way, they can brush their teeth soon after and the tooth fairy will be happy.

3) Trading leftover treats for toys — The  kids are super excited about getting Lego for their loot this year. I got this idea from another mom in the school yard — she swaps candy for money. Brilliant! Choose whatever works for you: books, games, stickers, going out to a movie etc.

Happy Halloween!


Want small portions when eating out? Try tapas.

Eating out at restaurants is a bit challenging for me — most times the portions are way too big. This past weekend I rediscovered tapas. I love that you can try different dishes without facing a mound of food.

I came across a gem on the Danforth called Embrujo Flamenco. The restaurant had a cozy ambience (perfect for our anniversary dinner) punctuated with brief performances by a flamenco dancer.

I wouldn’t normally think to order a salad as part of a tapas meal, but the ensalada embrujo was a treat — crisp mixed baby lettuce, roasted red peppers and oranges with the unexpected burst of green olives all tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette. Mild queso manchego cheese was stuffed in a roasted red pepper drizzled with balsamic vinegar  — a delightful sweet and tangy combination. The grilled angus sirloin was done right (medium-rare) making it tender served in a light mustard sauce.

I have to admit I was full by the third dish but managed to try the fiery garlic shrimps and blue marlin ceviche (fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices).

¡Olé tapas!

– Zannat

BBQ without guilt

Summer grilling time is here! The carnivore in your family might be interested to know that the largest worldwide review of red meat and heart disease was conducted by the well respected Harvard School of Public Health. After reviewing some 1500 papers reseaching over 1.2 million people across four continents, they found that red meat – unprocessed or plain – beef, pork and lamb  is NOT associated with heart disease or diabetes.

So how come you’ve heard messages to limit red meats to prevent heart disease? Well, in the past, researchers grouped all types of processed meats such as bacon, sausages, hot dogs and deli meats with unprocessed meats like pork chops or sirloin steaks. We all know a serving of pepperoni slices is not as nutritious as a piece of lean roast beef! Grouping processed and unprocessed meats together just muddied the waters. In this review, processed meats accounted for a 42% increased risk for heart disease.

Bottom line: Swap that hot dog for a few ounces of cooked lean red meat and drop the guilt while you enjoy that great tasting steak this weekend!

– Carol

Label reading pays-off

Sodium really is the new trans fat and all the buzz!  Be on the look out for lower sodium products. What was once your go-to cereal, bread, soup or cracker might change. Take Triscuit for example.  The 61% less sodium promoted on the package translates to just 2% of your sodium or 45 mg for 4 crackers. That’s enough to make me want to change brands.


Free menu plans with recipes and shopping list


Here’s something all moms want,  more time to do everything! How about this great time saver – ready made menu plans with recipes and the shopping list.  Designed by a registered dietitian (OK me!), these tasty meals will leave you feeling energized throughout your busy day. Go ahead and tweak away to your liking. Even if you only use half the meal plan that’s still half the work done for you! Visit EatRight Ontario at look down the left navigation and click menu planning.  Also check  out the How to plan menus section for more tips and ideas.


Store it right!

I picked up some great food storage tips lately and wanted to share!  Check it out:

1) Keep celery fresher longer by wrapping in foil then storing in crisper.

2) Don’t store onions and potatoes together – they make each other spoil quicker.

3) Keep lettuce fresh longer. Wash, pat dry and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

4) Use up those potatoes from larger bags. Cook, mash and freeze for up to 12 months. Use to thicken soups.

5) Store your tomatoes on the counter. They lose their taste when refrigerated.

For seasonal ideas check out Foodland Ontario: