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Monday, July 17, 2017

Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook


Indian food is SO DAMN DELICIOUS!

Aspects of it are very nutritious: lots of veggies, legumes and spices. But Indian food can also be very high calorie thanks to liberal amounts of ghee, cream, coconut, etc., and very high carb, thanks to lots of rice and breads served with most meals. Its not always a good choice for those struggling to lose weight or manage Type II diabetes.

Your best bet is to skip the Indian restaurant meals, and cook your own Indian cuisine at home, where you can control what goes in it.

If you don't know where to start when it comes to Indian cooking, let alone healthy Indian cooking, a good place to start is with the Indian Cuisine Diabetes Cookbook, published by the American Diabetes Association.

Its written by May Abraham Fridel, a food literacy advocate, author and spice company owner in the U.S.

The book is a comprehensive guide to both popular and more exotic Indian dishes. It starts with a guide to the spices, staples and cooking techniques in Indian cuisine.

Then there are 15 chapters full of recipes. Yes, 15! They include:

Healthy Breakfasts
Appetizers, Snacks and Street Food
Chicken and Vegetable Curries
Soups and Dals
Elegant and Exotic Dinners
Fish and Seafood Delicacies
Regional Delicacies
Kebabs and Grilled Dishes
Indian Flatbreads
Whole-Grain One-Pot Meals
Health Sides
Slaws and Salads
Desserts
Sweet and  Savory Drinks
Condiments, Chutneys, and Raitas

Small amounts of oil and cream are used in some recipes, but most are relatively low-fat, and are sweetened with stevia, or honey or maple syrup, rather than sugar.

There are no recipes, that I saw, using white rice. Instead, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains are used. All the flat bread recipes use whole grains instead of white and ample amounts of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and spices are used for flavour in everything.  Nutrition profile for each serving is provided for every recipe. The middle of the book has photos of some recipes but for others you will have to do without.

While most people will recognize things like Chana Masala, Rogan Josh, Dal, Chicken Korma, etc., there are others that are less common in North American restaurants and sound delicious. How about Masala Lamb Chops with Parsnips and Pears?? Or for breakfast, Burgur Wheat Upma, a savoury dish with cashews??? I also am going to have to try the Baked Spicy Kale Chaat (basically Indian spiced kale chips)  and Phal Ki Chaat (masala spiced fruit salad), and Tofu Bhurj (spiced scrambled tofu).

If you stock your kitchen beforehand with the staple ingredients, the recipes will not be difficult to make. Those living in areas where some of the ingredients are hard to find (like fresh curry leaves), can just omit them and make do with what you have. Don't be intimidated. Just because Indian cuisine has lots of spices and complex flavours, doesn't mean its difficult to make!

So do I recommend this book? If you love Indian food, absolutely! Cooking your own rather than going to a restaurant or ordering take-out, will always save you money and whole lot of calories.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review by the publisher, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Homemade Strawberry "Quest" Bars


If you avoid protein bars because you worry about the ingredients, don't like the taste of most of them, or can't afford the expense (These days the good ones are over $3 each!), than make your own.

These are so super easy and you can customize them to your taste and nutritional needs.

Using Vitafiber syrup makes them high in fibre. Using a plant-based protein powder will keep them vegan, and if you use coconut flour, instead of almond flour, they are nut-free.

If you don't want strawberry flavour, you can sub another type of freeze dried fruit. You can also make them a bit more decadent by drizzling melted chocolate over top. But in warm weather, that will make them a bit messier if you are eating them on the go.

Homemade Strawberry "Quest" Bars

1.5 cups Vitafiber syrup (or other IMO syrup)
2 cups vanilla or berry flavoured protein powder, sugar-free
1 cup freeze dried strawberries, whirled in blender
8 tbsp coconut flour (or 10 tbsp almond flour)
1 tsp beet juice powder (optional)

Pour syrup into pot and heat until bubbling over medium. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. Dump dough into parchment lined baking dish (either 9x9 for thicker bars, or 9x12 for thinner bars). Chill until firm. Remove from pan with parchment paper. Cut into desired size and shape. Keep in airtight container in cool place for up to 3 weeks.

I have shared this recipe with Urban Naturale's Plant-based Pot-Luck party.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada!


I know Canada's birthday was Saturday, but its still a national holiday here today. So yay for long weekends!!

Its been great so far. Adam's brother and his family are visiting from Vancouver. Though I had to work Friday evening and Saturday morning, everyone came over to our place Saturday evening for a BBQ, and yesterday we went to Adam's sister's son's birthday party, so there has been lots of celebrating. I have the day off until tonight when I have a Skype counselling session with clients.

There has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday due to our colonial history. We are certainly not the only country who have a sordid history in this regard. What's more troubling is how horrible conditions continue to be for our indigenous peoples.

That being said, I do strongly believe we have a lot to be proud of as a country. I have clients from all over the world who immigrate to Canada because of our acceptance of diversity and multiculturalism.

I am extremely grateful to live here and be raising my children here. And I don't care where you live, we make better beer than you do!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Be a Freezer Fanatic


My long time readers know I am a Freezer Fanatic. If you care about your health, and time and money, you should be too.

Filling your freezer with the right foods means you always have ingredients on hand to make healthy, tasty meals. It is also a great way of reducing food waste.

Here is what to stock up on:

  • Frozen fruits and veggies (they are just as healthy - sometimes even better - than fresh)
  • Meat and fish (I mostly buy fresh and then freeze, but also buy frozen chicken breasts from Costco and frozen seafood)
  • Whole grain bread, pita, wraps, etc. that you are not using immediately. (They will get moldy quickly at room temp, and get stale in the fridge)
  • Leftovers (if you've made a huge batch of chili, pasta sauce, soup, etc., freeze in individual or family serving size containers for a meal when you have no time to cook)

Basically any food you aren't using can be frozen instead of letting it go off and then having to throw it away. This includes fruit and veggies (cut up first), milk and other dairy, eggs (crack into ice cup trays), sauces (freeze pesto in ice cup trays for quick access) and more.

Honestly, if you are not using your freezer, you are wasting a lot of time and money on food (and wasted food).

This ends my series on how to stock a healthy kitchen. So throw away those takeout menus (or apps, I guess is what people use now), and start cooking!!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Pantry Staples



I am going to admit upfront that we (mostly me) are food hoarders.  The photo above is NOT our pantry. Ours doesn't look photo worth. We like to be well stocked with our staples, and when we find our favorites on sale, we stock up big time. We also have a Costco membership, and, well, you know how that goes!

If you want to make it easy to be able to make quick, healthy meals at anytime, here are some things to make sure you have on hand (and these are the things you will find in our pantry...and massive storage room):


  • Canned beans and lentils and dried beans/lentils
  • Canned tuna, salmon and/or sardines
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and other condiments
  • Dried herbs and spices (buy in small quantities as they lose their flavour quickly, unless you use them a lot)
  • Dried pasta, rice, oats, quinoa and/or other grains
  • Jarred salsa and pasta sauce
  • Nut butters
  • Whole grain flours, cocoa powder, sweeteners (coconut sugar, xylitol, stevia, etc.), and other baking ingredients
  • Vinegar (white, cider, red wine, white wine, rice, etc.)
  • Oils (avocado, olive, toasted sesame, etc.)
  • Dried fruit, nuts, seeds
The great thing about stocking your pantry is that the items are non-perishable, so you don't have to be planning to use them immediately. It also means you will be well fed at least for some period of time, if there is an apocalypse.


Monday, June 12, 2017

What's in Our Fridge


Is your fridge bare except for a 6 pack of beer and an old jar of pickles?

Or is it full of a carton of sour milk and 50 bottles and jars of 3 year old condiments?

We are a family with a full fridge. Always.

Its usually over-full on market days, twice a week, but really its only empty when we go away on holiday.

I don't understand how people live without fresh food available, if they can afford it. When our contractor doing our renos last summer recommended we unplug our fridge and live without it for a few weeks it was no deal. NO WAY JOSE!

So what takes up all the space in our fridge?

Here are the things we always have on hand:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cheese, veggie meat, tempeh/tofu, etc.
  • Milk, eggs, egg whites, yogurt
  • Miso, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, sugar-free ketchup, salsa
  • Non-hydrogenated margarine
  • Minced garlic in a jar, pickles, olives
  • Salad dressing, sugar-free bbq sauce, maple syrup
  • Shirataki noodles
Many of my weight loss clients say they stop buying fresh fruits and veggies because the end up always throwing half of it away uneaten. OMG, wasted food makes me CRAZY! There is an easy way to prevent this. First, plan your meals. Before we head to the market, I plan the meals I am going to make and buy accordingly, so I don't buy stuff that will languish too long in the fridge. Second, if you do end up with stuff you can't use right away, cook or bake with it for the future, or at least freeze it.

Many of my clients also admit their weakness is a lack of motivation to cook at the end of the day and giving in to take-out. But if you have a well stocked fridge, it can take just minutes to whip up a healthy, yummy meal such as a main course salad, omelet, or sandwiches.

Fill your fridge, cook at home and your body (and your wallet) will thank you!!


Monday, June 5, 2017

Baby Gourmet Shakers


Any parent knows it can be a real challenge to get nutritious food into kids. So when Baby Gourmet offered to send me their new Shakers nutrition supplement for kids aged 1 and older, I thought it might be a great idea. They generously sent us 16 bottles of them, half vanilla, and half chocolate!

The best way to describe it is its basically "Ensure" for kids. Unfortunately, that is not a compliment. You know, that's the meal replacement they often give seniors or people lacking appetite, that is essentially chemicals and sugar with added vitamins.

Shakers are not nearly that bad, but my basic criticism is the second ingredient is SUGAR (after whole milk)! For that reason, I would never buy these for my kids, and I certainly would never have bought them when the girls were toddlers. Like couldn't they sweeten them with banana puree or something?

Sure, the sugar is organic, but who gives a crap? Its still sugar.

The girls certainly liked them. Big A liked both flavours, but Little A only liked the chocolate. I guess if you have a kid who is struggling to gain weight and doesn't eat many other foods with added sugars, these aren't so bad, but both my kids already eat way too much sugar (thanks to spending their allowances on junk, school events, daycare, birthday parties and pretty much anywhere we go, since our society encourages kids to eat garbage 24/7).

If your kids are like mine, I don't recommend Shakers. Fortunately, the company, which happens to be Canadian (I do love that!), also sells organic baby foods and snacks, many of which are a whole lot more nutritious than Shakers. In fact, they look great. Organic and free of added sugars and fillers. I recommend you stick with their other products for your little ones.

Disclosure: I was sent Shakers to review, but all opinions on this blog are our own.

I am going to be posting on Mondays from now on, and hopefully more often when I can.