Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot! Making Arrabiatta Sauce with Nan

November 24th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

Despite having a procedure done on her eye last week, my Nan was adamant not to cancel our Arrabiatta Sauce making lesson. She is one gritty Italian who’s north of 80 and I chose not to argue with her… this time anyways. That food loving Ukrainian I know put this request in a while back when we started our lessons, so Nan & Pops had the ingredients ready to transform into saucy deliciousness. Venture into the heat with this speecy-spicy recipe that tantalizes the senses and does not disappoint!

Ingredients
8 hot yellow banana peppers, washed
canola oil
1/2 cup white wine
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp each dried basil, parsley, oregano
salt & ground pepper to taste
4, 680mL bottles crushed stewed tomatoes
1m 400mL can diced stewed tomatoes
1 rack pork back ribs

Instructions
1) Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Cut your ribs into individual or double segments and arrange on a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slow cook in the oven for 90 minutes. Set aside to cool (make ahead of time before making your sauce).
2) In a large saucepan add canola oil and heat to medium, low. Using hand protection when handling the peppers on a cutting board cut the stems off and discard, then cut the peppers lengthwise then widthwise adding each to the saucepan, seeds and all (the seeds have the heat, so beware). Saute the peppers until softened and browned, stirring occasionally. Add white wine and simmer for 2 minutes.
3) Add all of the remaining ingredients then stir to combine, including the cooked ribs. Allow to simmer in the pot covered with a lid on medium low for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Serve over boiled pasta of your choice and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy to the MAX!

Commentary
This is one steamy proposition that transforms taste to a new level. We set the table with a tablecloth gift offering I brought back from Portugal and shared fun holiday stories during dinner.

We served another famous soup of Nan’s first – Acini di Pepe Soup that I made special to help her recuperation post eye surgery. Nice to see that it worked!

We enjoyed the pasta and ribs with fabulous Okanagan Wine and even better company. It was great to be the victim of this spicy food hangover, lucky me! What’s the next lesson on Nan, your famous Vodka Sauce?

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Reactivate Your Activity

November 21st, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jack Frost is our master blaster this week folks, slapping us out of our autumn slumber. I like to ease into my winter-weather wardrobe in stages, don’t you? I still have flowers in my window box, now lying limp, a turtle gnome in my garden with his head poked into his shell and my doorbell on the Halloween theme setting, hmmmm. No I’m not ready for this!

I have been away for a stint and amped to get back into my exercise routine with gusto despite the sudden change in weather. But with this new cold reality I have changed my approach to get me back in the game. Here are some ideas to help you reactivate your activity explained in my ebook Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books, listen up:

  • Bundle Up – When you choose to go out and face the elements dress warmly (layers, coat, thermal socks, hat, mittens) or your frigid experience will reinforce couch-potato-dom and put your winter-esque activity plans on ice. Getting outside in these conditions and being active can be quite invigorating for some!
  • Just for Today – Adopt the adage “just for today”. How often do we ponder “how on earth am I going to be active from now until spring?” once the deep freeze hits, ug. Try my secret to chunk it down and focus on today rather than an entire season. When you do that all of the tomorrows will fall in to place!
  • Think Intervals – Another way to chunk it down is to think in terms of 15 minute intervals, the new “interval training”! Come on folks, everybody has a measly 15 minutes to start a movement movement, right? Once you break through inertia you may find you’re on a roll and decide on doing two intervals in a row. If not think about working in another interval or two in a little while. Your exercise doesn’t have to be done all at one time.
  • Wimp Out & Stay In – If you truly do hate the cold, plan workouts inside – do mall walks, turn on the tunes and dance to the music, invest in a piece of exercise equipment you’d enjoy using. I love my stair climber and cross country ski machine and used it yesterday to stay toasty warm.

Don’t lose heart folks, warmer temperatures are returning and this white stuff will be gone in a flash, we will overcome! Let’s be thankful for one thing…. we don’t live in Buffalo!

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Getting the Juice, NOT!

November 19th, 2014 No Comments

I had my semiannual, routine dentist appointment recently. While he was cleaning and polishing my pearly whites he was filling me in about the latest diet craze among his “golf playing” friends – touting “the juice diet”…. good grief. I nearly choked on my saliva if it wasn’t for that suction device hooked into my cavernous pie hole. “MMmmMMrickemrachemMmmMM” I muttered while he scraped away the plaque.

I’m sure my face turned beet red while my blood pressure rose as he raddled on about this nutty new craze where the company actually delivers these delicious tasting bevy’s to your door. While I was silenced by the work being done in my grand bouche thoughts bubbled through my brain about this fruity proposition, hmmmm.

Any car lovin’ man I know would never question the quality of petrol they pump into their muscle machines following the manual to the letter, yet they’re willing to pump anything novel and new down their own gullet that might in fact mess with their machine, their bodacious body. Gracious me.

I think we should all come with a manual from the nursery when we’re itty bitty baby’s. People might pay more attention to how special our “body as temple’s” actually are.

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Portugal

November 15th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Portugal
Speaks to the soul
People are real
A very big deal

Less pretence
More substance
Travel around
A special something surrounds

Land and sea
So almighty
Farm vines through stone
Olive groves roll beyond

Seeped in history
A fine place to be
Culture entwines
Out your pours, in your mind

Medieval sites
Imagination ignites
Mediterranean gem
Will return again

Historical
Cultural
Wonderful
Portugal

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Portuguese Market Soup

November 10th, 2014 2 Comments Tags: , , ,

I found myself in the engaging country of Portugal lately. The countryside, the people and the food are all a delight to experience. On one fine fall day we were treated to a family style dinner that filled up our tummies and tantalized our tastebuds with soup. Soup is one food you can never make a mistake on, but just perfect over time. This one’s a keeper, give it a try!

Ingredients
5 washed sliced leeks
5 washed, peeled carrots
3-5 washed, peeled, cubed potatoes
2-3 peeled garlic cloves
dash salt
5 Tablespoons olive oil
water
cabbage

Instructions
1. Add all of the ingredients except the cabbage to a medium pot, adding water until 2/3′s full. Raise heat to high to boil then simmer for an hour. Ensure the vegetables are fork tender. Remove from heat and cool.
2. In the meantime core and clean a small cabbage and boil in water in a different pot until the leaves are tender. Remove cabbage and cool. Remove leaves and chop. Put aside.
3. Puree the vegetables and water from your soup pot. Add in cooked, tender, chopped cabbage leaves.
4. Heat before serving and enjoy with a crusty roll and fresh ground pepper.

Commentary
This soup is food for the soul and will be worked in to my repertoire of fall and winter hearty foods. You can sub in other ingredients such as shallots or onions in place of leeks should you have them on hand. Check out your veggie crisper and use up what’s hanging around in the back of your drawer, perhaps.

It’s a perfect time of year to make and enjoy a new soup recipe, especially a Portuguese family specialty. Even better if you’re trying keep a watchful eye on your intake as a healthy and stealthy strategy to help you eat less. It fills you up and never lets you down, enjoying before your main meal while taking the edge of your appetite.

Enjoy this and you’ll have a bom dia, indeed!

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What time is it? Exercise-o’clock!

November 7th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

What time is it you ask?
It’s exercise-o’clock!

Get up off the couch
And go for a wee walk

Put on music perhaps
And do a square dance

You won’t need special shoes
Or Lululemon pants!

Maybe take a few flights of stairs
To get from point “A” to “B”

Consider taking a bike ride
With your entire family

Any time is a good time
To fight inertia and get on the move

Our bodies we meant to shake and shimmy
Saunter, run, dance, so vamoose!

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Sports Snack Pact

November 5th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been reading all sorts of nuggets on what to eat before sports and after sports and mulling all of this over, hmmmm. It seems to me that those of us from the Couch-Potato World who chronically sit all day and intersperse it with mere movement ought not qualify for the pre or post game snack. Don’t you think?

I have heard that for the average person there is very little if any “discretionary calories” to spend on extras for most adults given our sedentary lifestyles. Many of us have jobs where we sit at a desk for much of the day. Yes my hand is up on that one. So we probably have not earned extra to burn. Think about this folks.

I’m surmising this is the case for a vast majority of people who fit in stealth activity. I suggest you sip on some water to wet your whistles then off you go to get moving. None of this protein bar business is needed, nor is an electrolyte and sugar sweetened laden bevy in order for you. You might just be negating any good you’re doing by sache’ing your way off your easy chair and into mere movement.

Listen up, a solemn, medium sized apple has 72 calories in it so will take 3/4 of a mile to walk off. Take the innocent energy bar which has 220 calories in it, this will take about a 2.2 mile walk to burn that off, catch my drift?

So make a sports snack pact with me now that unless you take up your activity level MANY levels, you can forgo the treat that some have us convinced we actually need before or after activity, when we actually don’t.

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Sweetest Hangover Put to the Eating Satisfaction Test

November 3rd, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I had that old song Sweetest Hangover play in my head as I prepped for the trick or treaters to come to my door on Halloween eve – oh joy. I played a trick on myself as I ripped into my faves enjoying nibbling on a few sweet Reese’s pieces, ahhhh. Yes ET certainly got reeled in with those tasty morsels when lured in by Elliott. There’s no phoning home until you’ve enjoyed a few that’s for darn sure, right ET?

Then I had a wee try of my other fave the Aero Bar, double ahhhh. How I love that bubbly, chocolate bitesized morsel. When I was a little lassie I remember asking my Mom for one at the grocery store, back in the day when they were 10 cents. YUM I felt like a child again as rustled in the bag to find and enjoy a few.

My body went into spasm wondering what on earth I was doing because I don’t routinely eat that stuff. I think the saved file on  my body’s hard drive from last year’s Halloween got unleashed and the sweetest hangover ensued. I decided I’d put these annual treats to the test, one that I describe in my e-book Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

I recommend we all put our favourite food to this eating satisfaction test. It has you focus in on how the food you eat makes your body feel within an hour of eating it. Of course that first bites of these sweet nothings made my taste buds sing, but in an hour, how did they make me feel? As I sat reading at the door tending to the sporadic activity due to rain and chilly temperatures, I honed in, hmmmm. That initial sugar rush tasted and felt great, even euphoric, but the crash, well not so much. The taste in my mouth went initially from yummy to sour as that peanut butter splashed up my throat after a while, ug. This eating satisfaction test made me realize these treats really don’t make me feel that good after all.

By 8:30pm the lights went out, the treats got packed up to “go away, far away” and it was time for a late night dinner of steamy, spicy chilli with crusty bread and a glass of a hearty red wine, real food. A delightful way to end the evening. And within an hour of eating real food, my eating satisfaction score got a 10 out of 10, I felt great!

Consider putting your favourite foods to the eating satisfaction test. Some of your fave’s might fall off your favourite food list.

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Cheesy Propositions

October 31st, 2014 No Comments Tags: , ,

I found myself up north recently in cottage country. I came prepared to make some fast and easy meals to enjoy in front of the fire. One key staple in my Mary Poppins bag of tricks was cheese. I thought, hmmmm, here’s a cheesy proposition using this versatile ingredient 6 ways:

Antipasto Platter – I love the versatility of making a pleasing platter. Depending on the day and what I have on hand I arrange the following ingredients and enjoy as a meal or with a meal: cheese cubes, olives, nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.), fruit in season (cut up apple, pear, berries, plums, etc.), crackers or slices of French stick.

Eye on Pizza Pie – My oh my, this flash in the pan pleases the palate and is enjoyed with a side salad. The leftovers are perfect for another dinner or lunch or breakfast on the run!

Mac & Cheese Please - This filling delight is a one-pot wonder which’ll make you wonder why you don’t make it more often. It’s a family delight that goes well with a side veggie of green peas. I recently made the Brooklyn Style Mac & Cheese which was astoundingly delish!

Indy’s Specialty – Grill Cheese – One of my fave’s is this dish by no other than my food-loving Ukrainian who doubles as a chef sometimes! Very divine and tastes great with this side green salad.

Weenie Bocconcini – This is a perfect combination with dinner or as a meal with some fresh crusty bread. It is artistry for the senses and never disappoints.

What’s Better than Feta? I love this devilish delight right out of the oven with artisan bread – fast and easy and is sure to please you.

There you have it folks, some cheesy propositions to accompany your meal or become the main course. Use your imagination as you scout what you have on hand in your pantry and fridge and incorporate it into your repertoire. You can be a klutz in the kitchen and these’ll still work out deliciously – get cooking!

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Halloween Scene

October 29th, 2014 No Comments Tags: , , ,

It’s that time of year again – leaves falling, temperatures dipping and little goblins planning their trick or treating, ahhh Halloween.  I look forward to this day: a good excuse to wear orange; an acceptable reason to have extra treats in the house; a perfect time to connect with the kids and families in the neighbourhood. What’s not to love?

It’s fun to have a spirited day to dress up funny and shell out. Anyone who knows me, realizes it doesn’t have to be Halloween to do that. :-)

I have a special door bell with a Halloween setting, oh joy. When pressed you can hear a witch screach “AaaaaaAaaaa” (no that’s not me, it’s the other one…), a horn honk “beep beep”, a door slam “thump”, a ghost bellow “wooooOOooooOO”, a gong chime….. How fun! What I love the most is that every kid who comes to my door says “thank you”. I know I’m turning into an ole fogey, but I do appreciate good manners even when the little beggers trample my flower bed…

Once the shelling out is done it’s great when parents divide and conquer, sorting through the treats before the noshing begins with safety in mind. Make a few rules around these and keep ‘em for a few weeks then give them away. It’s fun days like this where we challenge our relationship with food. As I’ve said many times all foods fit and work it in. Up the ante on activity. With the last of the leaves falling, extra yard work is certainly in order.

I usually wait until the day before the big day to pick up my treats. You name it, I get it – chips, Cheetos, chocolate bars, candy, the full court press of offerings. It’s Halloween folks, kids don’t want “healthy treats” and neither do I as I sit at the door when the tykes drop by. Save the bridge games for the old folks home! What kind of trick is that? A very bad one! This is one of those occasions to take part in and have fun – nibble, nosh and be merry. When the sugar rush wears off, it’ll be time for school and work so enjoy!

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