Monday, December 31, 2012

A Sampling of 2012

It's here.  The last day of 2012.  A year full of changes and excitement for me, with moving off the boat into a city apartment... shopping for furniture and decorating,  and getting used to being urbanites.... it has been kinda scary, but really fun.

Some of my own favorites from 2012... hope you enjoyed them too!



I am really looking forward to lots of new kitchen adventures in 2013... hope you will join me!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

I love to be able to cook a traditional turkey dinner at Christmas, with all the fixings... some kind of dressing for The Captain, potatoes, gravy, veggies and cranberry sauce.  It just doesn't seem like a traditional turkey dinner without cranberry sauce... but we are eating less sugar these days, and almost no artificial sweeteners, so I needed to come up with a new recipe to accompany our Christmas turkey dinner this year.

I didn't want to use any Splenda and I sure didn't want to use a whole cup of sugar... both of which I have used in the past.  Cranberries are so tart that they really do need some kind of sweetening to make them edible!

I decided to cut up a couple of apples to add a sweetness to the tart cranberries, and it worked really well.  The natural sugar in the apples allowed me to put just a few tablespoons of added sugar into the mixture, and the natural pectin from the apples helped firm up the sauce when it cooled, too.  If you like it a bit sweeter, then you can certainly add more sugar. 

At first I thought I would use applesauce but opted to go for the cut up apples instead. I think it was a better choice because I like a firm cranberry jelly, and the applesauce may have made it a bit too runny.

This is my plate, without dressing...

Cranberry-Apple Sauce
Makes about 2-1/2 cups
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  1. Place everything in a medium saucepan over HIGH heat.
  2. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer.
  3. Stir continuously as the cranberries split open while they cook.
  4. After about 8 or 9 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a lid.
  5. Allow to rest and cool for 15 or 20 minutes.
  6. Remove to a covered storage container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Per 1/4 cup serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 40; Protein 0g; Carbohydrate 10g; Fat 0g; Fibre 2g.



Do you like cranberry sauce with turkey?  Tart or sweet?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Using my crock pot makes dinner so easy!  I can layer my ingredients in the crock pot, set it to LOW and leave it simmer all day... and the aroma coming from the kitchen teases me all day long with the promise of the wonderful evening meal to come.

This pulled pork smells just wonderful while it cooks... and the taste of the finished dish is not a bit of a disappointment.  The meat is so tender and really just falls apart when it comes out of the crock pot.

If you don't have crushed tomatoes on hand, use diced or whole, and just whizz them in your blender till pureed.  The result will be very similar to crushed tomatoes right from the can.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork
Makes 4 servings.
  • 1 small pork loin roast, about 16 to 18 ounces
  • 1/2 large white onion, vertically sliced in thin strips
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • few red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Coat the inside of your crock pot with a spritz of non-stick spray for easy cleanup.
  2. Spread the onion slices over the bottom of the crock pot and then place the roast on top in the centre.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, garlic and seasonings.  Pour  the mixture over the onions and pork in the crock pot. making sure onions are covered.
  4. Set the crock pot to LOW and leave for 6 to 8 hours till pork is cooked.
  5. Turn off heat.
  6. With 2 forks, pull the roast apart and shred the meat, mixing it with the sauce.
  7. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve over warmed rolls, rice, noodles, baked potatoes, spaghetti squash or grains of your choice.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 234; Protein 28g; Carbohydrate 13g; Fat 7g; Fibre 1g.

Cut the onion in half vertically and then slice in 1/4 inch lengths. Pkace in the bottom of the crock pot and place the pork roast on top of them.

Mix the sauce ingredients together and then pour over the onions and pork in the crock pot, making sure onions are coated with sauce.

The Captain had his on toasted whole wheat rolls.

I had mine on a bed of cooked spaghetti squash.

We both enjoyed the leftovers on top of baked potatoes.

Are you a crockpot fan?  What is your favorite way to use it?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cottage Cheese and Squash Breakfast Scramble

So, that leftover cottage cheese...

I used it in a breakfast scramble with an egg and some leftover roasted butternut squash.  It was very quick, very easy, and it was delicious!  You could use any cottage cheese and any cooked squash, but here is how I made it:

Cottage Cheese and Squash Breakfast Scramble
Makes a single serving
  • 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 whole fresh egg
  • 1/4 cup roasted squash
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Place in warm skillet that has been lightly coated with non-stick spray, over MEDIUM heat.  Allow the egg to cook, and stir occasionally, for about 4 or 5 minutes.  The color will change slightly as the egg cooks.
  3. Remove to serving plate.
  4. Garnish if you like with yogurt or cinnamon or salt and pepper.

Per serving, no toppings.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 180; Protein 21g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 7g; Fibre 1g.

Mix your ingredients.

Cook over medium heat... the egg puffs, the cheese melts...

and top it with yogurt!  Tasty and filling... it will easily get you through the morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Oats and Flax

I don't buy cottage cheese very often for a few different reasons... mostly because the brands I tend to like, which are fat free or 1%, are quite expensive in relation to other dairy products.  So, when I saw one of my favorite 1% varities on sale at half off this week, I jumped at purchasing a 500g carton (that's the 16 oz. size for my Amerian friends).

Then the challenge is to use it up and not forget about it in the refrigerator!

I used some the next morning to make breakfast pancakes for The Captain and me.  I really am grateful that he is such a willing guinea pig for my kitchen experiments.  These pancakes turned out really well and I am pleased that they are so high in protein, too.  They are a nice, chewy texture and it was well past noon before I thought about lunch, which is rare for me... a testament to how satisfying they are.

Used certified gluten-free oats and flax if you want to produce gluten-free pancakes.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Oats and Flax
Makes 2 servings of 2 pancakes each
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 whole fresh egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 2 Tbs milled flax seed
  • dash of cinnamon
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and place 1/4 cup of batter into a heated skillet that has been coated with a non-stick spray.
  2. Allow the cake to cook for about 5 minutes so that it will hold together when you flip it to cook the second side.
  3. Flip and cook another couple of minutes.
  4. Remove to plate and keep warm while you repeat the process to make 3 more cakes.
  5. Divide the 4 cakes between 2 plates and serve with your favorite toppings.
Per serving, without toppings.
Weight Watchers P+ = 5.
Calories 216; Protein 16g; Carbohydrate 17g; Fat 8g; Fibre 4g.

Mix all the ingredients together.

The flax and oats will absorb some of the liquid.

Use a 1/4 cup measure to spoon batter into the hot pan.

Be patient.  The first side will have to cook for about 5 minutes before you can successfully flip the cake.  Test the edges with  your spatula!

I ended up using 2 pans to get it all done a bit quicker.

But the wait was worthwile!  I topped with vanilla yogurt and some berries.
Now what am I going to do with the rest of the cottage cheese?  Any ideas?
Maybe I will use some in my veggie pasta sauce for dinner.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I spotted some beautiful red bell peppers on sale at my favorite local produce market on Saturday morning so picked up a few... I knew I would need some in the pasta sauce I was making later that day, and also picked up a couple more to roast in the oven.

I love to have some roasted red peppers on hand,  to sliver into salads, or veggieful omelets.  And I also decided to make up a batch of Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  I love homemade hummus and adding some roasted red peppers makes it even more special.

I cooked the peppers under the broiler of my oven the way I normally do, and then made sure to leave them cool for about 20 minutes so they would be comfortable to handle.  The last time I did them I wasn't patient enough to leave them long enough to cool properly and burned my fingers when I skinned them.

I am so thrilled that I have a food processor now!  When The Captain saw me opening the can of chick peas, he thought he would be mashing them like he always used to do when we lived on the boat, because I had no storage room for a food processor on board.

I like lots of garlic in my hummus and if you don't, you may want to put in only a clove or two instead of the 4 that I used!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Makes 2 cups
  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 red peppers, roasted and skinned
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup low fat plain yogurt
  • Dash of salt
  • Few red pepper flakes
  1. Place everything into the food processor and puree till fairly smooth.
  2. Allow to cool in refrigerator for at least an hour to let flavors meld.
The whole recipe works out to:
Calories 475; Protein 25g; Carbohydrates 80g; Fat 6g; Fibre 16g.

Per 1/2 cup serving.
Weight Watchers P+ =  3.
Calories 119; Protein 6g; Carbohydrates 20g; Fat 2g; Fibre 4g.

Whiz up everything in the food processor and then place in the fridge.
Prepare your veggie platter while the hummus is chilling.
I like to portion it out into indivdual containers and put on a plate with some crackers and wedges of Laughing Cow Cheese.
And on Sunday, I had it on top of a pile of greens, instead of a dressing.
Have you ever roasted red peppers?  Any ideas you especially like for using them?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Going Bananas with Oh! Naturals

Are you a snacker?  Do you love bananas?  Do you ever get a yen  for something a little crunchy and a little sweet?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then I have something to share with you that you are going to really love.

Oh! Naturals Flavoured Banana Chips...  now available in three great flavours, Strawberry, Natural, and Chocolate. You can find Oh! Naturals at Safeway stores across Canada,  as well as at Co-op and Sobey stores in Western Canada.  Starting next year, Oh Naturals! will also be available Bulk Barn stores nationwide.

They are made from whole fruit and make a perfect anytime snack because these banana chips:
  • are peanut free
  • are gluten free
  • have no added sugar
  • are salt free
  • are dairy free
Oh! Natural Flavoured Banana Chips are safe in school lunch boxes and can be easily toted along in sports bags or stored in your desk drawer.... they come in a resealable bag so they stay fresh and crispy.

We recently received a generous boxful of the three flavours to sample, and have been really enjoying them in a variety of ways...
  • right out of the bag
  • mixed with nuts and other dried fruits in trail mix
  • as cereal toppings
  • with yogurt
  • dipped in yogurt and peanut butter mixture
  • in my Healthy Breakfast Bowls
  • in my after-workout protein 'sludges'
Oh! Naturals Natural Flavoured Banana Chips, hazelnuts, cashews, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds

Oh! Naturals Strawberry Flavoured Banana Chips
Oh! Naturals Chocolate Flavoured Banana Chips topping a mixture of protein powder, milled flax seed, almond milk

The three flavours all have very similar Nutritional Information.  This is the back of the Natural bag.

For a generous serving of 28g (approximately 19 - 21 pieces):

Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 127; Protein 1g; Carbohydrate 21 or 22g; Fat 4g; Fibre 1g.

They are made from whole bananas, vegetable oil, natural and artificial flavorings, and the chocolate variety has a chocolate powder which may contain soy.  Very simple ingredient list. Nothing you cannot pronounce here!

We are so excited about this new product that we are making sure to share our samples with friends and neighbors, too, in order to get the word out.  We haven't found anyone yet who has had a negative thing to say... everyone who likes bananas, and crispy, crunchy chips will be sure to enjoy Oh! Naturals Flavoured Banana Chips as much as we do!

Check out the Oh! Naturals web site and look for them on Facebook, too.

I was given this product for review but the opinions are my own.

Do you eat dried fruit?

Do you think you would like dried bananas?

Monday, December 03, 2012

10 Tips to Doing Your Holiday Baking Without Gaining Any Weight

This time of year can pose a real challenge to those of us who do Christmas or Holiday Baking!

We are often surrounded by tasty, tempting ingredients and recipes that we don’t normally face during the rest of the year… we are looking to make salted caramels, shortbread, molasses cookies, butter tarts, pecan and mincemeat pies…. and on and on.  Every year it seems there are more and more calorie and sugar laden goodies to try… more recipes in our favorite magazines and blogs and it can all become quite overwhelming… and let’s be honest… fattening!

It would be easier to just refuse to do it… and for a brave few, that is often the solution.

But for those of us who want to make special things for beloved family members and friends, how do we go about producing these fabulous food gifts without piling on the pounds?

Some people would advise you to only make things that you don’t like to eat yourself.  Others would say to bake when you are not hungry, or to put the bakedgoodies in the freezer right away so they are out of sight.  Good tips, but not very realistic.  Who hasn’t discovered that peanut butter cookies taste wonderful when they are frozen?

So what do you do when faced with raw cookie dough or chocolate cake batter?  How do you keep from tasting or nibbling or licking the spoons or egg beaters while you are doing the actual baking?  We all know that these little BLTs (bites, licks, tastes) can add up to hundreds of extra calories over a few hours… and if you do several baking sessions, you might be facing thousands of calories full of sugar and fat!

I think we should reward ourselves for all of this creative and love-driven work we are doing, by enjoying some of the goodies we are making.  I think it is extremely unrealistic to expect that we won’t do a bit of sampling… but I would suggest that we decide, before we even get started, that we are going to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee, or even a glass of wine, AFTER it is all done and enjoy ONE piece of our favorite confection…. one cookie, one piece of brownie, one thin sliver of pie. 

Keep your eye on that prize, and keep the tasting to a minimum.

I have come up with a few ways to avoid the BLTs and have been given some tips by some of my friends over the years as well… I would love to share them with you.

  • Brush your teeth before you get started.  A fresh, clean mouth feels so good and you are less likely to start popping nuts or chocolate chips into your mouth when you have fresh sparkly clean teeth.
  • Chew gum.  It is very difficult to pop bits of cookie dough into your mouth while you are chewing gum.  Let’s face it.  We don’t need to taste the cookie dough because we are often using recipes that we have made over and over and over again… we already know that dough tastes good!   I am not normally a gum chewer but I do find this tip really works for me.
  • It does make sense to do your baking when you are not hungry.  But you might want to have an appropriate snack at the ready, right out in front of you where it is easily accessible.  Apple slices covered with peanut butter, or some cubes of cheddar cheese will help keep you going.  Make it something a bit special that you really like, and something that can easily be popped into your mouth instead of a piece of cookie dough.
  • Have lunch already prepared so you don’t nibble instead of eating a real meal. If your baking session will last for hours, especially over lunchtime, or involves a friend, it might be a good idea to have something ready in the fridge, that you can take to a table to sit down and eat while taking a break from the baking.
  • If you do bake with a friend, challenge each other not to taste as you go along.  Make a little game of it and charge each other a penalty for catching each other tasting, or have a non-food reward pre-determined for the one who does it the least. 
  • Wear your workout clothes and shoes while you bake.   This is a really good idea for so many different reasons.  It will remind you about why you don’t want to be nibbling while you are baking.  And if you do get time for a quick break, you could get out for a little walk, or you can do some squats or pushups in the living room while the cookies are in the oven.  Or you can crank up some holiday music and do a bit of dancing.
  • Make up rules before you begin baking.  I have a rule that I don’t eat while I am standing up. If I want to put something in my mouth I have to take it to the table to sit down first.  It has happened where I have taken a brownie batter spoon to the table to sit down and lick it, but by the time I got there, I realized how silly it was and avoided the deed! 
  • Put the used bowls, mixer blades, spoons, spatulas, and other utensils into a sinkful of hot soapy water as soon as you are done with them, or at least rinse the batter off them so you won’t be tempted to lick if off!
  • Imagine that someone is watching you in the kitchen.  Behave the way you would if you were being recorded or if the neighbor or your husband was spying on you!  Better yet, set up your video camera and make a vlog about it all. You will never lick your fingers! 
  • Focus on the end goal… to make something lovely for your family and friends to enjoy.  The more you nibble now, the lessfinished product there will be when you are done!  If you  cannot control yourself while the cookies are cooling, get out of the kitchen.  Have someone else put the finished and cooled baking into containers and then get them out of sight as soon as you can.
I hope that some of these tips might help you to get through your holiday baking without adding on some holiday pounds! 

If you have any tips, I would love to have you share them with me.

And I would really like to know what you are cooking up for the holidays, too.