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    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    What do you think of the new Sift, Dust & Toss site design?

    Are you loving it?

    I thought it felt like time for a change. I still need to create some other pages and iron out a couple kinks, but I feel like it looks more like a magazine now. I've also opted for a sans serif font so the reading should be easy on your eyes.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on the new site look!

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    Totally gonna 'burglerize' this one

    This week's guest post comes courtesy of Heather Morrison, the very talented lady behind Toronto Uncovered and BlogCampaigning. In this post, she tackles one of my favourite foods in the world: the frequently-coveted yet seldom-perfect burger. Check out her terrific recipe:


    I have always had a pretty strong appreciation for homemade burgers. Burgers from McDonalds, BK and even Wendy’s don’t really do it for me - something about that round (or square) flat patty just kind of creeps me out. Plus, there’s really nothing that compares to the taste of a good homemade burger – be it beef, chicken or turkey. My cooking style is very much “throw whatever you have into the mix, and see how it turns out”. This is why I am a good cook and a horrendous baker – I don’t operate well with boundaries. For my burgers, I have experimented with a number of different ingredients, depending on the contents of my fridge, but I think I’ve finally narrowed it down something closely resembling a successful recipe. See below –

    • 1 package of ground turkey, beef or chicken
    • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
    • ½ tsp sesame oil
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 squirt BBQ Sauce
    • Cheese, diced/crumbled (I like smoked cheddar or feta) – add as much as you want! This is a MUST!
    • 3 pieces of prosciutto, diced
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 egg
    • ½ cup of breadcrumbs
    • 2 spring onions (or red chopped also works)
    • 5 leaves basil
    • 1 tsp hot sauce (or 1 crushed chilli)

    Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees (or fire up the grill). Mix up all of the ingredients into a big bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Form your burgers into round patties by hand and lay them flat on a cooking sheet or your BBQ. Burgers should take approximately 20-30 minutes to cook in the oven and 15-20 on the grill. Check periodically.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Spring


    Birds are chirping and hideously fat monsters of squirrels with bulging eyes are jumping out of the bushes at us! It's spring!!

    We've endured daylight savings time and there is more light. I see people differently, somehow more kindly. I can see their faces finally after an untrusting winter of cloaks and shroudery.

    Soon crocuses will be the first to come. They are the perpetual sign of green optimism and hope. In May, lilacs explode and perfume the air, as do lily of the valley, my birth flower. I've always loved them because they are lacy and delicate with a sweet, lovely fragrance, but they only bloom for two weeks in the whole year.

    Spring fashion always brings crisp pastels (which for me means I muster a swampy grey. Earth tones, always earth tones.) We celebrate the light of day in all forms, including fashion.

    Oh, and how could we forget the lovely vegetables of spring! Look out for artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, fiddleheads, green garlic, leeks, mint, peas, rhubarb, spring onion and turnips.

    What's your favourite spring vegetable or dish? What makes you look forward to spring?


    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    Fruity Muffins & Maker Culture

    My Relationship with Maker Culture

    One of the best sessions I attended at Podcamp Toronto in February was led by Wayne MacPhail and his journalism students from Ryerson University. Their class focused on the idea of Maker Culture, whereby people focus on making things they need and use everyday. Different class members focused on different goods that people could make. (One girl actually interviewed me about one of my blog posts where I describe how to make your own skin products using raw, natural food products.) They used Google Wave and wikis and all sorts of handy online tools to track their progress and share ideas.

    You might say I’ve been going through my own maker culture phase…

    I’ve stepped back from blogging a little bit, but I’ve been dutifully cooking every night. I always say I’m not a baker, but I’ve found myself baking a lot!

    I know it’s against clean eating principles to be making things with white flour and sugar, but there is always that lingering, Nigella Lawson-y part of me that insists homemade anything is better than store-bought anything in the end. At least you can always see what goes into it.

    And I'm not so strict that I'm about to ever swear off flour. I go pretty green/vegan/raw at times, but this is a Food blog at the end of the day and the French, baguettey part of me will always beat out the clean eater.
    :)

    So what, I’ve been eating lots of quinoa and spirulina and legumes. A girl still wants something sweet every once in a while. Instead of reaching for a Cadbury bar, doesn’t it seem better to reach for homemade fruit-filled, homemade blueberry-banana muffins?

    Wholesome, old-fashioned food will always be good for the soul.


    Banana & Blueberry Muffins

    1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup oat bran
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    pinch of turmeric
    tablespoon of ground flax seed
    tablespoon of chia seeds
    tablespoon of raw sunflower seeds

    1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
    1/2 cup unflavored soy milk
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed (6 to 7 ounces)

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine flour, sugar, oat bran, baking powder, salt and other dry spices in medium bowl; whisk to blend.

    Place mashed bananas in large bowl. Stir in soy milk, egg, oil, and lemon juice. Mix in dry ingredients, then blueberries. Remember with muffins and brownies that you want to mix the ingredients just enough that they are combined, but not so much that the gluten starts to break down in the flour. If that happens, the batter becomes stringy and the muffins will turn out tough instead of soft and moist.

    Divide batter among muffin papers. Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn muffins out onto rack and cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    As I always say, I ain’t no baker, but these muffins do the trick. They are full of good things.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2010

    Spud Duds


    I'm already pretty defensive about our Maritime farmers, but this Toronto Star story about PEI potato farmers broke my heart.

    It's too bad that Americans get their potatoes mostly from fries and chips because potatoes are a satisfying and nutrient rich food:

    Protein - 6%
    Vitamin C - 50%
    Thiamin - 8%
    Riboflavin - 2%
    Niacin- 10%
    Iron - 8%
    Vitamin B6 - 15%
    Folacin (folic acid) - 8%
    Phosphorus - 8%
    Magnesium - 8%
    Zinc - 2%
    Copper - 8%
    Pantothenic acid - 4%
    Iodine - 15%

    I liken them to avocados in the way they manage to fill you up: extra-high satisfaction factor. They also have that added x-factor that they add to any meal. Everyone loves potatoes and they are always a welcome meal addition.

    Plus they are so simple to prepare!

    Preheat oven to 475 F. Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Toss them with your favourite herbs and spices and a little olive oil. (I used smoked paprika, cayenne, rosemary and garlic. Pick yours!)

    Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice so they cook evenly all over.

    Support Canadian farmers!

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Clean Eating

    It's a cliché when bloggers apologize for taking breaks from posting, but I must do it nonetheless. There.

    I tweeted today that I've been eating clean this week and a few people responded on Twitter, asking about what that meant or feeling inspired to do likewise.

    My clean eating definitely needs some work. Guinness, beer and fries tonight. Smoked meat yesterday for lunch. Yeesh. That's more meat than I normally have in a whole week.

    Nonetheless, the rest of what I've been eating has been very, very clean. I've always been a fan of the smoothie meal even since high school. I get it from my father who used to revive himself from marathons with the kitchen sink smoothie.

    Lately I've been taking things one step further. I'm a huge fan of Meghan Telpner, naturopathic nutritionist and featured writer on The Appetizer. I agree with her philosophy that it's always more beneficial to obtain nutrition from whole, real foods rather than synthetic representations. For example, she puts nuts in her smoothie for protein and good fat instead of adding a processed supplement.

    Check out the recipe here.

    This is clean eating.

    Tosca Reno is the developer of the Eat-Clean diet, which advises people to eat natural, whole foods that don't have preservatives. Emphasis is placed on smaller meals throughout the day containing complex carbs and lean proteins. Drink tons of water.

    Advocates of this diet carry around enough clean food that they can always avoid hunger and temptation to stray from the diet's core by indulging in fast food or restaurant food.

    I've been eating healing broth with green tea. I made my favourite wild rice salad by Ellie Krieger.  It contains dried cranberries, nuts and fresh herbs with a balsamic vinaigrette. I've also been trying to eat a ton of legumes and made a bean salad.
    Aside: if you eat a lot of legumes, your body becomes adept at digesting the enzymes. Ahem, there is an adjustment period, regardless.
    These are my fragmented thoughts on clean eating. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Any avid fans amongst you readers? Any sometimes clean people like myself?

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Guest post: Super Foods to Beat the Winter Blues

    We've had a couple of days of sunshine, but I still feel wiped out. After this mild-seasoned winter, I've realized that the lack of light has a profound effect on my body. Good thing I have smart friends! This guest post comes courtesy of Diana Visocchi, a talented and wise Naturopathic Doctor whom I know personally. Please see her helpful tips below.
    We have all heard the expression “You are what You Eat”. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I hope that you believe it because it’s true!

    Living in Toronto under dark winter skies, on slush-lined streets tends to affect our mental state of mind. We tend to spend most of our time indoors, watching movies and eating more than usual.

    Why not capitalize on this and stock our fridge with foods that can increase our energy and mood? Next time you’re at the grocery store, make sure these 5 items are in your cart.


    Super Food # One: Sesame Seeds

    Sesame seeds contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid (only available through diet) necessary for the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood and behaviour. High levels of serotonin can promote relaxation, calm the brain and relieve tension. Other sources of tryptophan include egg whites, raw soy beans, oats and turkey.


    Super Food # Two: Spinach

    This super food is packed full of folate, a B vitamin necessary for cellular function and development. Low levels of folate will disrupt the production of red blood cells; this can lead to anemia and therefore, feeling fatigued. In addition, numerous have shown that low folate is associated with feelings of melancholy and depression. Other sources include asparagus, turnip greens and peas.

    Super Food # Three: Salmon

    Salmon is an excellent source of Vitamin D. To ensure adequate amounts of this vitamin, you need to be outside during peak sun, with your hands and face exposed for at least 15 minutes. How many of us do that during the winter? Not many. Low Vitamin D status has been linked to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder); however it has also been linked to impaired immunity. So to avoid getting sick this winter, ensure you are consuming foods high in Vitamin D and supplement if necessary.

    *Note* Supplementation of any vitamin or mineral should be discussed with a health care practitioner. Taking too much can be harmful to your health.

    Super Food # Four: Barley

    Barley is high in soluble fibre which helps to even out blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar. Instead of blaming our grumpiness on low blood sugar (which is in fact true), try incorporating more fibre into your diet. Other sources include beans, peas, strawberries and apples.

    Super Food # Five: Avocado

    This fruit (yes it’s a fruit) contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – the healthy fats. Our brain and entire nervous system depend on fats to function. It has been shown that diets low in fat lead to anxiety, depression and frustration.

    Now I know the title implies a focus on foods; however, I must mention exercise because it’s derived benefits are countless! Exercise increases serotonin levels, relieves stress, creates a healthy body image and improves sleep... need I keep going?

    Try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Walk to work if possible. Always choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Switch out your desk chair for a stability ball. Leave you office during lunch and go for a brisk walk. These small changes add up and can affect your health and therefore, your mood.

    I hope that tonight’s mood boosting dinner will include a piece of salmon, side of barley and a spinach salad with diced avocado, sprinkled with sesame seeds. Yum!

    Bottom line: To avoid feeling blah this winter, eat a healthy balanced diet and get active. It’s that simple.

    For more information on how you can improve your health, please visit: www.dianavisocchind.com