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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!

Categories: Food Tags: , , ,

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!

It’s a pink miracle doused in ketchup!

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been fantasizing about getting some omegas into little B all winter.  He’s been so very itchy (not that rolling around in the dog bed with M helps at all).  He has dairy-related eczema and eats cheese sandwiches almost exclusively.  Well that’s not true, some days he’ll have a cheese quesadilla, and some days a cheeseburger – hold the meat.

I ventured out to the Organic Grocer to try to get some seabuckthorn oil, as I read that it was fantastic for dry and irritated skin – and no nasties.  Unfortunately, the clerk told me that the oil was extremely expensive for topical use.  She suggested that dry skin may be linked with diet, which I of course already suspected.  I’ve been trying to sneak the omegas in via smoothie, which is the one way that I get some good stuff in him.

I had a recipe for salmon-potato patties stashed away forever, so I thought that tonight might just be a good night to try it.  Couldn’t find that recipe, so I found this one on the internet, sans potato, but that’s okay because the potato recipe called for potato “flakes”.  What?

I tweaked it a little, adding garlic – of course! – and served it up Cajun-style (blackened…okay BURNT) but he loved it!  “It tastes like french fries!”, he said as he picked out the green onion.  Note, he did not enjoy the actual french fries that I made, because “they look like potatoes”.  (As for Marshall, he licked 3 servings of ketchup off the plate then threw a french fry at Cooper.)

I think you could really play with this recipe, maybe add in some shredded zucchini or spinach and maybe some quinoa for bulk.  It’s not the healthiest on the planet, what with the frying and all…but since I’m most concerned with beefing up the B (would be nice if he had more than 3 lbs on his brother THREE years younger!), I’m not too concerned.  Also, I just used canned pink salmon.  Easy!  All ingredients are -ish, I used 1 can because there was just the 3 of us tonight.

Salmon Patties

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cans of salmon
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs), divided
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 1-2 minced/pressed garlic cloves
  • spices to taste (we used Costco brand garlic & herbs)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine salmon, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs,  onions and spices. Stir until well-combined.
  2. Form into patties.
  3. Place remaining bread crumbs on a plate (add more spices as desired, we used garlic salt). Roll salmon patties in bread crumbs, pressing down lightly to ensure crumbs adhere.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place salmon patties in skillet.
  5. Turn heat down to medium. Cook salmon patties until golden brown, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown (about 4-6 minutes on each side).

If your kids are under 5, serve with a generous dollop of ketchup and make sure any hidden veggies are well-chopped!

Categories: Food Tags: , , ,

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!

Categories: Food Tags: , , ,

Real Food vs. “Real Food”(tm)

March 17, 2010 1 comment

I have been moving toward what I consider a “real food” diet for the most part of 2010 so far. After reading this article in the Globe, It looks like I’m going to have to stop calling it that, since I definitely don’t mill my own flour or make my own yogurt. I’ve just been trying to eat less processed foods. Maybe I should say, less packaged foods, or as author Michael Pollan coined them, “edible food-like substances”.

Moving away from junk and introducing different things into your diet is really not all that difficult. It just takes a while to change your thinking. I used to consider myself a healthy eater. After all, I took a multi-vitamin almost weekly and ate multi-grain Cheerios. These days I’ve become much more aware of what I am putting in and on my body. And the more “real” food I eat, the more revolting processed stuff becomes.

Side note: It’s much easier to maintain in regular life than at social events. I’m pretty sure that Costco birthday cake has all the wrong things in it, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to devour a giant corner piece on sight (extra icing, please, and can you make sure mine’s full of red dye No. 6? Thanks.) From Monday to Friday however, I’ve been able to navigate the junk food arena of the office: passing by the bowl of Hershey’s kisses at Valentine’s day, the Friday chips & dip bowl, and declined a Fatburger date by thinking of exactly what’s in that stuff compared to my other options (my daily giant salad, orange and/or apple).

To digress slightly, what I find especially interesting is the comment section. Comments sections are generally festering spots for posts demonstrating superiority complexes and/or ignorance, and no exception here. Wow. I do hope that those who are claiming they too follow the real food diet really are just trying to help and be supportive, but some just smack of smugness.

People spend a *lot* of time making excuses (to themselves, mostly, but somehow justify it in writing on these boards). And hey, bonus points to those who manage to throw in extra digs such as “my wife and I both work full-time, and evenings and weekends are also very busy (and we’re not parents who over-program our kids with extra-curricular activities either), so the notion that we’re going to spend the weekend cooking and baking is just a non-starter”. The author goes on to hilariously suggest that you could only follow this strict diet  if you’re a stay-at-home parent (because god knows stay-at-home parents aren’t doing anything else).

Back to me (ahem), I would never say never. Maybe one day I’ll be growing yogurt and drinking raw milk, Survivor-style. I never thought I’d be one to embrace and promote a more natural lifestyle. My way-back, former eye-rolling “oh-geez-everything-will-kill-you-these-days” self wouldn’t even recognize today’s me! Except maybe on Friday nights.

Categories: Food, Me Tags: , ,