Liquid Gold

I learnt about about the history of the restaurant in my cultural studies class in first year University. My Professor, Trevor Ponech, lectured on the significance of the simple broth. 

The practice of cooking meats and vegetables in pots has existed ever since people started cooking. In fact, it might have been one of the first dishes that humans ever cooked. 

Our modern word, restaurant, actually originates from the restoratifs (restoratives in English), healing broths that were served in 18th century Paris. This is where we first saw pot-au-feu, boullion and consommé.

The restorative quality in soups and broths remains today. We make chicken soup when we are sick because of its perceived healing qualities. Chicken stock absorbs nutrients from the bones and carcass of the bird. We add a mirepoix of onions, celery and carrots and the stock absorbs these nutrients too.

When our bodies are weak, we consume soups and broths because they are gentle on our stomachs and give our digestive systems a break.

I think it's worth eating some healing broth when you are healthy as well as ill. It lets your poor intestines rest and helps to clear out any nasty bits that have been hanging around.

This recipe is highly flexible. Select the ingredients that appeal to you; omit those that do not. Enjoy this light and cleansing broth any time you're looking for a lighter meal option.

Healing Broth Recipe

2 cups of chicken stock, homemade or store-bought (or veggie if you prefer)
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 thumb-sized piece of frozen ginger, grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1/2 a lime
pinch of crushed red chili peppers (add more to your preference)
1/2 pkg of soba noodles

Warm stock to a boil in a 3-quart pot. Reduce to a gentle simmer and grate in garlic and ginger. Add fish sauce, lime and chilis then soba noodles. Cook for 5 minutes.

1/2 cup of firm tofu
1/2 cup cooked chicken

Toss in tofu and/ or chicken, if using. Cook for 2 minutes.

handful of spinach or collards
1/4 cup of baby bok choy, chopped
1/4 cup of broccili, chopped
1/4 cup of frozen peas

Toss in veggies. Cook for only long enough to warm them through, 1 minute or so.

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp fresh italian parseley, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
drizzle of sesame oil

Throw in herbs and drizzle sesame oil. Divide into bowls and serve immediately.

My Favourite Legume of All

Legumes are fruits from the Fabaceae family of plants. We extract beans, peas, lentils, carob and peanuts from the cozy pods they grow in. 

They are one of the very best forms of soluble fiber you can find, in addition to being low in fat and high in protein. By eating this soluble fiber, you can lower the LDL cholesterol in your body, which lowers your risk of heart disease.

Legumes are also high in iron, folic acid, magnesium and copper. These minerals are often low or absent in women's diets.

I like a good lentil or a black bean or white kidney. I dig the soybean: tofu, soy milk, soy protein powder in my morning smoothie. You may even catch me eating a soybean or two in their raw, unprocessed form. The soybean is, without doubt, an extremely versatile fruit (bean.)

But, ultimately, I cannot disguise my love of another...

It is the one I bought in a twelve-pack from Costco, the one that I enjoy in salads and soups and dips: the sweet, beloved garbanzo bean. 

Also known as the chickpea, the grabanzo was one of the earliest vegetables that man is known to have farmed. There must be great wisdom in a plant that man has cultivated for so long.

I love the chickpea for it's sweet, mild flavour and creamy texture. If I were forced to eat them everyday for the rest of my life, I would not be sorry.

I make variations of the following recipe all the time. It's another recipe that feels good to eat.

You can add more or less chicken stock depending on on the thickness you prefer for the sauce. Naturally, vegetarians should opt for a vegetable stock instead.

Soba Noodles & Greens with Garbanzo Sauce

1 pkg soba noodles
10-15 florets of broccoli
5 leaves of collard greens, chopped roughly

Boil and generously salt 2 liters or so of water. Drop in noodles and chopped collards. Cook for 5 minutes. Add broccoli; cook 3 more minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid.

1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2 cups of chicken stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt (optional) & pepper

Purée half the chickpeas with garlic and chicken stock. Add chicken stock until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Add a touch of pepper and salt, if desired.

1 avocado, cubed
2 tbsp of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp of sesame seeds
couple pinches of crushed red peppers (add more to preference)
drizzle of sesame oil
2 lemon wedges

Toss the collards, broccoli and soba noodles with the chickpea sauce and reserved chickpeas in the cooking pot. Heat gently on low heat. Add a little of the cooking water to help the noodles bind to the sauce.

Add the sesame seeds and crushed red pepper. Divide mixture amongst  bowls. Top each bowl with avocado, a squirt of lemon, fresh cilantro and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Serves four.

Barley There

We're always hearing about the latest list of superfoods with their antioxidant qualities and disease-fighting power. 

Some of these include:

  • barley
  • beans
  • berries
  • broccoli
  • green veggies (dark & leafy greens like spinach, kale and collards)
  • nuts (especially walnuts and almonds)
  • oats
  • oranges
  • pumpkin, squash and sweet potato
  • salmon
  • soy
  • spinach
  • tea (both green and black)
  • tomatoes
  • yoghurt

One of my favourite flavors and textures is that of barley. My mom always makes a casserole of barley and mushrooms around Christmas, but it seems such a shame to only savour this delicious and healthy grain on the holidays.

Barley is a low-glycemic grain, which means that unlike white bread or potatoes or other " bad carbs" under recent scutiny, it won't make your blood-sugar skyrocket. Translation: no mood swings.

Barley also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps the body to metabolize fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates. It also lowers blood cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber, or roughage, helps to clear out the digestive tract and reduces related afflictions, such as colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most common yet most preventable forms of the disease.

Barley is also rich in selenium, which boosts the body's capacity for antioxidants. (What a great idea to eat alongside the Simple & Luxurious Berry Salad!) Because of this boost, people believe selenium may be able to fight certain forms of cancer, primarily prostate.

This decadent weekend risotto recipe replaces arborio rice with its healthier barley cousin. Serve alongside grilled chicken.

Barley Risotto

6 1/2 cups of organic chicken broth
6 tbsp unsalted French butter
3 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of pearl barley (13 oz), rinsed and drained

1 6 oz package of portobello mushrooms, stemmed with gills scraped and chopped
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (1 1/2 oz)
1 tbsp fresh chives
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parley
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

large, heavy saucepan
medium saucepan

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm. 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté until tender (6 minutes.) Add barley and stir until coated in butter (1 minute.) Add 1/2 cup broth; simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed 93 minutes.) 

Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until barley is tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy (45 minutes.)

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft (5 minutes.)  Season with salt and pepper.

Add mushrooms, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, herbs, and remaining butter to cooked risotto, stirring to combine. Season to taste with salt & pepper.


Antioxidants are chemicals that we ingest in foods that can prevent or slow down oxidative damage to our bodies. This oxidative damage results from our cells' use of oxygen and the resulting by-product called free radicals. 

Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration result from oxidative damage due to free radicals. 

A diet rich in antioxidants can therefore offset potential disease.

After making reference to this recipe in my first post, I thought I should pass it along. The salad is rich in the phytochemicals called flavonoids or polyphenols. These are the ones usually associated with dark red fruits, such as grapes. We have flavonoids to thank for the virtues extolled in red wine to counter heart disease.

Although it's quite simple, this salad is an uplifting and colorful treat to look at as well as taste. After all, we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths.

Simple & Luxurious Berry Salad

1 pint of blueberries, washed
1 pint of blackberries, washed
1 pomegranate's seeds
1 mango's flesh, cubed
5 peppermint leaves sliced into ribbons
zest of a lime
juice of a lime
pinch of fleur de sel

Toss ingredients and marvel at the rich, colorful beauty!

Salmon: not going with the flow

It's been an upstream battle for me with canned salmon. Compared to tuna, it has always seemed bonier, slimier and fishier. 

Nonetheless, it's a food I want to be able to enjoy because of its fancy Omega-3 fish oils. 

I've heard of women going on salmon diets where they eat it for a few days and their skin glows something fierce at the end of it.

The solution to the canned salmon conundrum is simple: lots of fresh, bright flavors and a secret unexpected addition: pickles.

Mind-Changing Salmon Salad

2 cans of wild pacific canned salmon, drained and flaked with a fork
1/2 a sweet white onion, diced
1 scallion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3 tbsp parsley and/ or cilantro, chopped finely
2 medium garlic dill pickles, diced

splash of pickle juice
2 tbsp olive oil mayonaise
zest of a lemon
juice of a lemon
splash of olive oil

pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of toasted whole almonds, finely chopped
grated cheese of your choice (suggestion: parmagianno-regianno)

Mix ingredients together. Continue to add olive oil until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve on toasted baguette slices rubbed with olive oil and garlic.

Oh Fennel

I think this should all begin with fennel salad.

Let's wipe the slate (and digestive system) clean.

This Christmas holiday, I went up to Haliburton with my family and cousins' family. We divided the meals and I drew brunch on boxing day. I thought carefully about creating a meal that would lend a sense of "relief" to a stomach over-saturated with rich and heavy food. The result was the following recipe for fennel salad containing cleansing and digestive ingredients.

I served the fennel with an antioxidant-rich fruit salad (mango, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry & pomegranate) and quiche lorraine.

Eating this fresh and crunchy salad feels like a million bucks. It has already become a staple for my new year.

It accompanies rich food beautifully by gently cleansing the palette with fresh lemon, crunchy apple and celery, peppery parseley, vibrant mint and the light anise of fennel.

Cleansing Fennel Salad

1 bulb of fennel, shaved into half-moons
1/2 Vidalia (or sweet spanish) onion, shaved into half-moons
1 large Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly into half-moons (avoiding core)
2 stalks of celery, sliced thinly on the bias

Cut and toss together.

rind of a lemon
juice of a lemon
1/2 cup of best olive oil.
1 tsp. dijon or mustard powder (optional)

Mix and drizzle dressing.

1/4 cup of sliced, toasted almonds
a cup of parseley, chopped roughly
5 or so mint leaves
1/2 tsp. fleur de sel
generous rasping or shaving of pecorino romano cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Toss, toss, toss. Give it lots of pepper!