Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I have no classes on Wednesdays, so they are the perfect day for me (at this time of year, especially) to catch up on assignments and get some studying done. Today the original plan was to sit at my new favourite haunt, the Croissanterie, with some coffee, croissants and classical music, but my fruitful haul from my weekly shopping trip made me reconsider.
I'd blogged about StoneMill Bakehouse's Muesli Bagels before, and it was actually when I was flipping through my old entries that I was reminded of these (and the half-used tub of cream cheese in my fridge). Although these bagels are unfortunately not 100% whole grain (notice how the second ingredient is "untreated unbleached wheat flour") the whole grains and seeds that are in it pack in a lot of fibre (8 g per bagel) and protein (12 g per bagel). It's important to note, however, that even though there are lots of flaxseeds in the bagel, it is NOT a source of omega-3 as the flaxseeds aren't ground. I did have cream cheese with it (light, of course), but the sweetness from the raisins makes it a perfect pairing with any nut or seed butter, which is obviously a healthier choice for its protein and unsaturated fat (vs. saturated) content.
The toasted bagel was paired with a 4-fruit smoothie—raspberries, blackberries, mango and banana blended with plain yogurt and milk. Delish!
One more exciting thing—I never thought anyone could make me switch from Nature's Path FlaxPlus Granola with Pumpkin Seeds (I'm going through a pumpkin seed phase right now, seriously), I spotted this interesting British cereal today. I bought their "Fruit, Nuts and Seeds" cereal, which has Chilean flame raisins, dried apricots, dried bananas, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts. PLUS, the barcode didn't scan through properly so the clerk undercharged me (Hehe!) I'm excited.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
This will hopefully be the first of many more slightly opinionated nutrition-related posts.
As an aspiring dietitian, there is a lot of pressure to be a model of healthy eating. Compared to the stereotypical university student, I think I'm doing a pretty good job--I eat fish at least once a week, I drink more or less two glasses of milk per day, I never leave the house without eating breakfast, I have a lot of variety in my diet (I was just at a friend's where some people were talking about how they have stirfry with chicken and frozen vegetables and just a different sauce everyday and I said, 'I can't relate.') and I don't buy cold cuts, bacon, cookies, ramen or KD.
Still, when compared to current recommendations and the new evidence that keeps coming out, there is TONS of room for improvement. I make my scrambled eggs with butter Gordon Ramsay-style (but without the crème fraîche and chives)--I know I can probably buy non-hydrogenated margarine, but after a bad experience trying to make icing I haven't bought another tub. Bad girl. I still eat poppyseed bagels (I haven't seen any whole wheat versions around, although I would love some), paninis, pasta and white rice, and I'm sure you've seen the sweet creations I've made in recent entries. Most recently, I even went to The Keg and ordered a prime rib classic (I did trim the fat off though), although it didn't compare to the 24 oz prime rib that my friend got.
One thing I've always prided myself on, even though I may not make the best food choices (like making my mom's Baked Salmon with Miracle Whip) is that I try my best to eat "real food". I make my food from scratch whenever possible; my pantry shelf contrasts with all the cans and boxes that line those of my roommates, and I LOATHE frozen vegetables, so I buy fresh vegetables and fruit every week. Mustn't that count for something nutritionally? Isn't there something healthier about not eating all those additives, preservatives, thickeners or whatever else even though the food I make may be high in fat or low in fibre? More importantly, doesn't having food that you make yourself taste better and meet some non-nutritional needs?
I have been thinking about this entry for a long time (although now that I'm actually executing it, I realize that I don't have very much to say), and I was about to think that I was crazy and I'm just trying to excuse myself from my sometimes high fat diet. However, I recently realized that I do have a huge force on my side. Although I have not read the book, from what I gather, Michael Pollan takes my position in The Omnivore's Dilemma, where (according to the September 2007 issue of Scientific American) he argues for the pleasures of food, and to "pay more, eat less" by buying organics (which I don't do) or other quality foods that conserve their taste AND nutritional value. "Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother won't recognize as food," he says. So even from his point of view, my diet needs improvement and now it's just a matter of deciding which way I want to go--spending more money on organics and quality food, substituting some of my current choices with what's regarded as healthy nutrient-wise, or a happy combination of the two? We'll see.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
About a month ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Richard Béliveau, one of the authors of Foods that Fight Cancer and its recently released sequel, Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer. His passion for his work and for food in general is infectious, and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he had to say in our interview although I unfortunately could not include everything in my review for the Tribune (which, I must warn you, is not my best work).
My favourite quote from the interview:
"When you're making something delicious and you're offering it to somebody, it's a gift. It's a great gift, telling someone that you love them enough to take the time to prepare them something with your hands; we've forgotten today what is handiwork...Cooking with love something that will give pleasure to somebody you love, it's a great gift, it's a great moment. I think it's a moment of great humanity."
Monday, November 12, 2007
I am at that stage in my relationship with my boyfriend where I *still* can't stop gushing about him. Is this normal as we near the 7 month mark? Because if it's not then I'll stop annoying everybody and shut my face.
Anyway, It was my birthday today and so I celebrated this weekend (although my boyfriend says I should keep on celebrating until the 20th which is when my Chinese/lunar calendar birthday is this year). On Friday night I went to the Spirite Lounge with some friends I hadn't seen in a long time, and it was so nice to catch up with all of them and talk about where they've been and where they're going and also about nerdy things like good old times.
For Saturday night, one of my birthday requests was for my boyfriend to make me dinner because he rarely ever cooks (he recently admitted to only having canned soup in his pantry these days because he's too busy to eat at home) and he responded by buying an appetizer of pickled salmon and red bean buns that he mistook for rolls, and making a simple but lovely dinner of a roast, potatoes and a salad.
I asked arrogantly if I could make dessert, as I like to pretend that I'm the best baker out of all my friends and he said he would've bought dessert anyway. I wanted something extra-special and decadent, so I perused Orangette and Chocolate and Zucchini, knowing these lovely ladies wouldn't disappoint. While Molly's Winning-Hearts-and-Minds cake was very tempting (she served it at her wedding, after all). I finally settled on a similar cake from Clotilde: Le Fondant Chocolat Noix de Coco
Of course I know you're fully able to read Clotilde's recipe (and always-charming introductions) yourself, so I'll leave you to that. But here is how the recipe came to fruition on my side of the pond—It started three days before, at Aubut (which I just realized I accidentally deleted the photo of.) Located just a couple blocks away from Atwater Market, it is a distributor for restaurants, caterers, etc. and therefore is in a way, like a Costco but without the membership (and goods that are not food-related). I was recommended there when I asked on the local Chowhound boards where a girl can find some good baking chocolate. While their wholesaler section is a little overwhelming, they do have a little retail section with more manageable portion sizes, a nice selection of cheeses, and a section devoted to kitchen gear (including chef's uniforms). I picked up a 1 kg bag of chocolate pastilles, which was the smallest size they had—they have 5 kg bars of Callebaut chocolate which I recently learned should not be confused with the Alberta-based Bernard Callebaut.
My pastilles are from the far more exotic (and far less environmentally-friendly?) Papua New Guinea.
The one thing I found very unique about Clotilde's recipe is how it calls for toasted coconut. It's almost magical the way they turn GOLDEN and fragrant. While the cake itself is very moist, like a brownie, the coconut adds a lovely bite in terms of flavour AND texture.
Coming out of the oven, the cake is a little short (as the only thing that's holding its structure, really, is the beaten egg whites, which by the way, caused my hand blender to overheat and make a part fall off of my whisk attachment which I fortunately don't use very much anyway) and anticlimactic in terms of appearance.
While I was tempted to ice it and decorate it, Clotilde warns that it is fragile, and I had to transport it to my boyfriend's house, so I made the executive decision to use some of my leftover ingredients (whipping cream and coconut) to top the cake off.
Toasted Sweetened Coconut (to top your cake!)My boyfriend and I had two pieces each, and my roommates polished off the rest of the cake when I brought it home the next day!
I made too much, so now I have a jar of it sitting in my pantry. This is half of the recipe, so it might still be too much. I suggest topping other things with it, like future cakes, granola with yogurt, fruit, etc...
- 125 mL (½ cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 15 - 30 mL (1 - 2 tbsp) icing sugar
Mix ingredients in a skillet over medium heat, stirring until it begins to turn golden and fragrant.
On a somewhat related side note, my friends have figured out that I'm a foodie and I currently have THREE chocolate bars, two of which are from Dolfin (although I must admit, I bought the pink peppercorn one myself). I also received a chocolate zucchini cake and a salad dressing bottle (which I promptly used to make some rosemary oil) from my friend and ex-roomie Jane, and a fancy bottle of bourbon from my wonderful boyfriend. I'm going to gain weight like you wouldn't believe.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Thursdays are my busiest day of the week. I'm out of the house by 11 so I can catch the shuttle to my far-off campus in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, I have a little while to settle down and eat before 4 hours of class, then it's another 45+ minutes in traffic and then a 20 minute walk before I get home and have one hour to make and eat supper before my tap class. So how nice is it when dinner is sitting nice and hot in the slow cooker waiting for you?
Let's just say it's definitely worth getting up half an hour early to throw this together.
I was only introduced to the slow cooker this year when I moved into an apartment where one of my roommates had one. Earlier in the year I made a lamb stew recipe from Canadian Living's Make it Tonight that was already a little complicating to begin with, but then I made it even more difficult by taking it upon myself to try to debone a lamb shoulder! Needless to say, I will be buying boneless lamb shoulders from now on.
This recipe is a lot simpler, and it comes from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook. The original recipe is an Irish Stew, but since I used beef and added carrots, I think I took all the Irish out of it ;)
The ingredients are simple--beef, onions, potatoes, carrots, beef broth, dried thyme--but simmering them all together for 8+ hours really brings the flavours out of it. The onions, potatoes and carrots have a sweetness to them and the beef just soaks up all the moisture and flavours from its surroundings. This recipe makes a lot so feel free to halve it, or do as I did and win some brownie-points by packing an extra tupperware in your lunch for your boyfriend!
Simple Beef Stew
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cookbook
Makes 8 servings
- 900 g (2 lb) lean beef stewing cubes
- 6 medium potatoes, cut into 1 cm (½ in) slices
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 5 mL (1 tsp) salt
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) pepper
- 5 mL (1 tsp) dried thyme leaves
- 425 mL (14.5 oz) beef broth*
- Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
*In Betty Crocker's world, beef broth comes in 14.5 oz cans, but in my world, they only come in 10 oz. I did have some beef broth in a box to top it off, but I imagine this stew would be good if you put in a 10 oz can of soup + 4.5 oz (135 mL) of dry red wine.
- Layer half each of the beef, potatoes and onions in a 3½ to 6 quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with half each of the salt, pepper and thyme. Repeat layers and sprinkle with remaining seasonings. Pour broth over top.
- Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 - 10 h (or high heat for 3 - 5 h) until beef and vegetables are tender.
- If possible, skim fat from stew. Serve with parsley sprinkled on top.