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Posts Tagged ‘eating well’

Artichoke “This is so good. What is it?” Dip

May 29, 2010 Leave a comment

I had the girls over last night and I used the opportunity to try out this recipe I saw in Best Health magazine…I love dips of all kinds, but especially the really rich and cheesy ones.  So when this dip promised to bring the flavour without my old friend mayonnaise, I was excited to give it a shot.  It turned out well, so I thought I’d share the recipe with my modifications.

2 cans (398 ml) artichoke hearts (canned in WATER), drained
4 tsp capers
4 garlic cloves (to taste)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I used good old Kraft)
a few tbsp feta cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive)
juice of half a lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
1 avocado
handful of fresh spinach (because I throw it in everything)

Mix together with a hand blender or food processor until smooth.  It was best warm though it can be served either way; put it in the oven or toaster oven until bubbly.  Serve with crackers or chips.

Does anyone have any artichoke experience?  Their texture makes them ideal to “sneak”  and they are nutrtionally rich with antioxidants, folate, magnesium and fibre.  I’d love to experiment with fresh artichokes, but they seem so scary!

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Adventures in Grains

May 18, 2010 3 comments

Adventures in Grains

For the past few years, brown rice is the staple grain in our house, but may I confess: brown rice is gross.  I really don’t like the taste of it, and it’s such a pain in the butt to make.  Enter whole wheat couscous: super quick and easy, but I’m about the only one who really likes it.

We tried buckwheat: gluey, although most likely that was operator error.  After my second attempt I sort of gave up on trying to make it.  Next up: Bulgur.  Bulgur fared much better than buckwheat in our house, using it mostly as a rice alternative with stir-fries, curries, chili and the like. Plus, I love saying “Bulgrrrrrrrr”.

I’d wanted to try quinoa for a long time, ever since learning how to pronounce it about a year ago.  Earlier this year at a ladies night session, amazingly creative foodie Liz brought a red quinoa dish that was amazingly yummy.  Quinoa was a little tricky to find until a few months ago (when it showed up at Costco, natch).

Personally, I love quinoa and its slightly chewy texture. The appearance does take some getting used to. Since the rest of my clan is not so adventurous when it comes to trying new things, it’s mostly been on my plate alone.  I try to incorporate it into other dishes, since the nutrient quotient is so high it’s a real powerhouse food and what they call a “complete” protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids required to optimize the absorption of the protein.

I cooked up a batch on Sunday to try to sneak it into meals throughout the week.  First up: the morning smoothie.  Every night I layer into a blender: spinach, strawberries, frozen berries, plain yogurt, flax oil and bananas (serves 3).  I added in about ½ cup of quinoa.  Benson tactfully handed it back to me after a sip. When I tasted mine, I understood.  It didn’t quite blend in like I’d expected…in fact it was so gritty-tasting, I couldn’t quite finish the cup.

Next up: the morning oatmeal.  Success!  This time I put in about ¼ cup with the oatmeal and berries.  I didn’t notice any taste and in fact, the texture was a nice addition!  I recently also started adding a few pumpkin seeds to the oatmeal (awesome for magnesium, zinc, protein).  A nice combo.

Last sneak: scrambled eggs.  A few mornings a week I make scrambled eggs with whatever’s on hand, a little shredded cheese, a few beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions and spinach.  I put it in a thermos and eat it late morning.  The quinoa is the perfect addition. It blends right in and has the same consistency.  It adds to the protein content and keeps me going through lunchtime.

I still enjoy it as a rice substitute, but the boys have flat out rejected it.  I’ll keep trying to sneak it into the white rice that they seem to adore and maybe even the granola bars I’ve started making.  Stay tuned!

Superfood: you can do it.

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

Almost every superfood list includes oatmeal and blueberries. Oatmeal is claimed to fight cancer and heart disease, and blueberries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.

It seems like such a virtuous thing to eat, but here’s the thing:  it’s boring as hell. I’m not a fan of sweet, but plain glue-ey oatmeal makes me think of the slop on Big Brother.

So here’s how you can learn to enjoy oatmeal while maintaining its benefits.  First off, I choose either 9-grain or “porridge oats” cereal produced by Rogers, a local company.  It’s oatmeal with a little somethin’ somethin’…additional grains like flax seed and wheat bran, which gives it a little more texture.  I use less than half a cup.

Next, I add a LOT of cinnamon (also showing up on superfood lists, purporting to control blood sugar, prevent diabetes, and help arthritis sufferers).  Experiment to your taste.   I cook it with almond milk.  You can use your preferred milk; I prefer almond due to the low calorie count.  Making oatmeal with milk lends a creamier texture and takes away the gluey-ness that you can sometimes end up with.  Add enough milk to cover up the oatmeal.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes and stir it immediately upon removal (and as my office can tell you…be careful, ”OUCH!  It’s HOT!!”)

I then add a handful of frozen berries – ½ cup to a cup.  My preferred brand is the Kirkland Rader Farms ($10.69/bag, Costco).  The quality is great.  Add a little more milk if it’s dried up, stir in the frozen berries, then microwave for another minute or two.

To me, it ends up tasting just like a fruit crumble.  I’m sure you could experiment with other spices or use apples or applesauce.  It’s really natural, easy and tasty this way and your whole kitchen will smell like pie!  I’m still working on getting the kids to eat it (rather than just pick out the berries), but if your kids are a little more adventurous than mine, then they’ll love it too.

Garlique

March 23, 2010 Leave a comment

So, we’ve been rocking the garlic all winter, especially me, and haven’t suffered any colds.  I’d venture to say that Bill’s have been less severe.  I’m fairly certain we’re not in the 8 to 12 clove-a-day range, but definitely a few a day.

I just saw this article in the NY Post Well blogs about the benefits of garlic.  While it’s among many hundreds of articles out there written about the benefits of garlic, I haven’t heard this before:

To maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.

Whether garlic’s health-boosting properties are as wondrous as sometimes claimed or not, it’s one of the tastier natural remedies, so it’s going to stay on the Robbins menu!

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