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    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Things I learn from other people's blogs

    I've explained to many people that I have a love/hate relationship with the blog, Kath Eats Real Food. I always talk about how annoying I find Kat, her smug smile and stoic-looking food, her evil blog-turned-shopping-center, the way she spells her name...


    And yet I read it compulsively - obsessively even! I can't miss a single one!


    Kat is a true American, from her writing style to the way she dresses. Her blog is devoted to recounting every single thing she eats. She takes a billion pictures of her dietary intake and a billion people read it ever day.


    The background story is that Kat used to be obese before she pursued a clean, naturopath-approved diet. The pictures showcase lots of nuts and seeds and tons of vegetables. (She's supposedly the registered dietician or whatever, but I think she could use more whole grains in her diet. Just saying. )


    Part of her compulsion to photograph everything she eats must come from a need to control her diet. She's created the ultimate accountability: a massive, devoted readership watching everything she puts in her mouth.


    I recently made an appointment to see a Naturopath. I'd never been to one before, although I was familiar with the kind of dietary restrictions they often prescribe. I knew she was going to cut gluten and dairy.


    It's funny because I think I eat pretty well. Lot's of quinoa and barley and lots of wholesome, nutritious greens. Yet, I'd never had the courage to go full tilt and cut out gluten, dairy and soy until someone actively told me to. The naturopath told me, "I think you just need someone to be accountable to."


    Looks like I'm kind of a hypocrite, eh?
    Anyway, the thing I learned from Kat Eats Real Food's blog today was actually related to exercising and not food. She said that she just can't go running in the afternoon because she feels like her stomach is too full. I think I'm the same way. Whenever I exercise later in the day, it leaves me feeling sluggish and uncomfortable.


    I appreciated Kath's mentioning her aversion to afternoon workouts and I will be more likely to consider that quality of full stomacheness to be a truism because of her.


    Ultimately, these small realizations are the reason why I derive so much pleasure from blogging and reading other people's blogs. Through sharing our experiences (even if it's a million pictures of a million meals), we learn more about one another and ourselves.


    Our lessons for today are:
    1. We may need to be accountable to someone if we are making a deliberate change in our diets
    2. Some people can only run early in the morning on an empty stomach
    The
    End

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Cucumbers & little well-known approaches to defend against type 2 diabetes

    Today's guest post comes from Suzanne Ault, a Sift, Dust & Toss reader from Illinois who writes a blog about food and recipes to heal diabetes. This post is all about the healing power of cucumbers and I couldn't be happier. They've been on my 'preferred' list lately! Can't get enough of them.


    Think you're cool as a cucumber? Not just is the cucumber known for it’s power to cool down the body, it has also been proven to help with jaundice, diarrhea, epilepsy, sore throat, conjunctivitis (redness of the eye) and swelling of extremities.


    Often you should attempt to deseed the cucumber as the body can have a hard time digesting the seeds. It is possible to deseed them yourself easily by cutting them in two and utilizing a spoon to take out the seeds or if you wish to eliminate this task you can buy cucumbers that are already seeded.


    Fresh cucumbers are easy to add to salads and for an easy salad just toss diced cucumbers with sliced red onions, red tomatoes and your favorite all-natural, low-fat balsamic vinaigrette. This is a fast way to make a refreshing salad that reaps some great benefits of cucumber.


    Anti-diabetic Advantages of Cucumber:
    Beta cells contained in the pancreas produce the hormone insulin.Cucumber is found to possess a hormone needed by the beta cells in the insulin production. Moreover, the Glycemic Index of cucumbers is found to be zero.


    Why don't cucumbers have a glycemic index listed? Does this mean that they don't raise blood sugar levels?


    No! It simply means that under the "rules" for the meaning of the glycemic index, it is too hard to get an accurate number. This is because you'll need to eat a very big amount of the food to get 50 grams of carbohydrate at the same time to be tested. Usually, the lower the quantity of carbohydrate in a vegetable and the more fiber it has, the less the rise in blood sugar levels will be.


    The carbohydrates are primarily responsible of the raise of the glucose level. However the carbohydrates within the cucumber are easily digestible in a diabetes patient’s stomach.


    Tricks for Preparing Cucumbers:
    Unwaxed cucumbers need not be peeled but must be washed before cutting. Cucumbers may be sliced, diced or cut into sticks.


    A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
    - Use half-inch thick cucumber slices as petite serving "dishes" for chopped vegetable salads.
    - Mix diced cucumbers with sugar snap peas and mint leaves and toss with rice wine vinaigrette.
    - For refreshing cold gazpacho soup that takes five minutes or less to make, simply purée cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and onions, then add salt and pepper to taste.
    - Add diced cucumber to tuna fish or chicken salad recipes.


    Cool Cucumber Salad Recipe:


    Ingredients:
    - 3 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
    - 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
    - 1/2 red onion, sliced paper-thin
    - 1/3 cup minced cilantro


    Dressing:
    - 1/2 cup rice vinegar
    - 2 tsp. honey
    - 2 tsp. Reduced-sodium soy sauce
    - 1 1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
    - Pinch dried red pepper flakes


    Preparation per 8 servings:
    Preparation time: 25 minutes
    Marinating time: 60 minutes


    1. Combine the cucumbers, carrots, red onion, and cilantro in a large bowl.
    2. Combine the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over cucumbers, cover, and refrigerate for 60 minutes. Salad may be eaten with a fork.


    Nutritional Values per Serving Size: 1/2 cup
    - Calories: 25
    - Calories From Fat: 10
    - Total Fat: 1 gram
    - Saturated fats: .1 grams
    - Cholesterol: milligrams
    - Sodium: 50 milligrams (without added salt)
    - Total Carbohydrate: 5 grams
    - Soluble fiber: 1 gram
    - Sugars: 3 grams
    - Protein: 1 grams


    The author:
    Suzanne Ault publishes articles for the diabeticdietrecipes.org blog, her personal hobby blog site devoted to cooking ways to stop diabetic issues. Read her complete biography here

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Cascade of Canadianism

    I previously wrote about Innis & Gunn when I was sent the beer as a pairing for a lovely and earthy sage gnocchi and enoki mushroom dish. You may recall that it was curated by Chef Jonathan Gushue of Langdon Hall. (Such a simple, yet delicious and elegant recipe!)


    I really enjoyed the beer and have since bought it again on a number of occasions. The blonde smells like a rosebush to me.


    (Noted: I recommended it to a colleague at work and he didn't share my positive perspective. I stand by it.)


    Back by popular demand from last year's inaugural batch is Innis & Gunn's limited edition 'Canadian Cask' beer. They only produce 200 barrels of this special beer, which is only sold in Canada. The beer sits for 71 days in whisky casks. It's also brewed in rye malt to compliment the oaking.


    It feels ceremonial to break the seal on the box.


    She's a malty one.


    The nose is abundantly fruity. It's quite a pleasure to smell. Whisky, malt, fruit, yeast, a little vanilla, buttery caramel and maple syrup.


    Although I'm a big fan of Guinness, I was still surprised by the intense flavour of this beer. It tastes better than it smells and stronger still. I feel that it marks the occasion (Canada Day) with an exclamation mark! I like that gumption.


    You get a touch of whisky flavour too, which adds to the big full body.


    I'd recommend drinking this beer with strong flavoured foods like chilli, curries or bold cured meats.


    Innis & Gunn limited edition Canadian Cask is available at the LCBO for $4.95/bottle

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Trends & Melon De L'eau

    Pulled pork, macarons, Tiny Tim doughnuts and an abundance of watermelon. These are the recent food trends I've noticed cropping up everywhere!


    Photo Credit: Martini Boys, Little Nicky's
    Little Nicky's opened a couple of weeks ago, just a stone's throw from my work. In addition to 
    featuring their own special blend of espresso and Organic Fair Trade premium drip coffee, they make fresh mini doughnuts. (Tiny Tims!!)


    The pulled pork trend is evident from the fact that Burrito Bandidos is now featuring a spicy pulled pork burrito. (That, and the billion BBQ-inspired slow food joints that keep opening up like Harlem Underground.) Look around: pulled pork is everywhere.
    When I worked at Rahier Patisserie, macarons were a special sign of spring with all their colourful and pretty pastels. I've been seeing them all over town since February and they aren't showing any sign of letting up! MoRoCo, Nadege, Petite Thuet, LemonTree at St. Lawrence Market, La Bamboche, Pusateri's and Patachou all carry them- you basically can't escape.


    Watermelon was also been making waves (pun) in mixology circles. I've seen and tasted watermelon lemonade, watermelon mojitos, and watermelon smoothies. I am definitely not complaining. In fact, I think we could all do with a little more watermelon in our lives.


    Luckily, the National Watermelon Promotion Board (yes, such a thing exists) has been leveraging the chaos and excitement of the world cup in order to rank international watermelon recipes and determine a winner!


    Today, I bring you the recipe from Italy, which came fifth in the esteeemed competition!
    Balsamic Caramelized Onion Caprese


    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 large sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
    1/2 cup extra dry vermouth
    2 tablespoons of sugar
    1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
    1 pound buffalo mozzarella, sliced into 15 slices
    15 squares of watermelon cut 2-1/2-inches (6 cm) wide, 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick
    1 cup fresh basil leaves


    In a large heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are golden in color and slightly toasted. Reduce heat to medium. Add the vermouth and sugar to the pan and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. Stir in the balsamic and sauté another few minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

    Alternate slices of mozzarella and watermelon on a serving platter or up to 4 individual salad plates. Spoon onion mixture over watermelon and mozzarella slices. Garnish with fresh basil.
    Makes 8 servings.



    Per Serving: about 440 cal, 13 g pro, 21 g total fat (9 g sat fat), 50 g carb, 3 g fiber, 45 mg chol, 45 mg sodium. %RDI: iron 6%, calcium 6%, vit A 70%, vit C 80%


    For more watermelon love, visit this website


    Honestly, since I've been reading about the Zoku speedy popsicle-maker, I just keep imagining blending up watermelon and making popsicles in 10 minutes flat. Healthy and delicious!


    What kind of recent food trends have you noticed?

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Well-done

    My favourite kind of articles and essays always examine a seemingly mundane preference like pencil or pen usage and frame it in a socio-cultural context.

    I really enjoyed Susan Burton's examination of well-done meat in America on Slate.com.


    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    The Inniskillin Uniquely Canadian Experience Contest

    Full disclosure: Inniskillin is a client of mine




    I still thought my loyal and beloved readers might want to hear about a fun contest the company is running in anticipation of Canada Day.


    To celebrate being the first winery in Canada, Inniskillin wants to hear about your favourite Canadian wine moment. Whether it was drinking Pinot Noir at the peak of Whistler or sipping Chardonnay after hiking in Georgian Bay, all you have to do is visit the Inniskillin Facebook page and share your story.




    You and a friend could win a trip to the Inniskillin winery, which includes:

    • An Inniskillin Canada Day prize pack
    • Three night’s stay at a local Niagara-on-the-Lake bed and breakfast
    • VIP access to Inniskillin’s Canada Day celebration

    Inniskillin’s Canada Day celebrations will include:

    • An outdoor skating rink
    • A fireworks show presented by David Whysall International Fireworks
    • Award winning wines paired with some of the best local food Niagara-on-the-Lake has to offer
    • Cabernet Franc Icewine S’mores

    Friday, June 4, 2010