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The author of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food” Michael Pollan whose golden rule is one worth living by as much as one is able- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” answers questions from readers about how the Eater’s Manifesto should be interpreted by people who live in a cold climate.  The answers are one’s that many of us struggle with. Should I buy local when the only organic product available has been shipped from another country or continent?  Read the article for Michael Pollan’s answer. What would you do?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/michael-pollan-answers-your-questions/article1175438/

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Eat for a Future

OK Kids the biggest risk to your health is heart disease. Heart disease is affecting younger and younger people every year. Here is a strategy to minimize your risk, if you are young and healthy and want to stay that way learning now to Eat for a Future might be one of the most important things you ever do. It is most very significant for the young person whose health has been compromised. Today more and more of our young people are facing serious health challenges at younger ages. NEVER doubt for a moment that all life is created equal and precious. You who feel marginalized, overlooked, spurned by the in-crowd have more in common with the stressed weight obsessed young social butterfly than you know. The isolation and loneliness so many of us live with is a crushing burden. A burden that is harder and harder to bear if you develop vitamin deficiencies, weight control issues and health problems. Unfortunately the skinny among you can have just as much or more to worry about when it comes to blood pressure. If you: smoke, eat too many salty food/snacks, don’t exercise, and eat poorly you may be at even greater risk of High blood pressure.

The thing is that having a larger perspective and imagining a future that is healthy and happy is something you can and should do. You must value your life, I know it’s hard sometimes to care about tomorrow in this screwed up world but take it from me when you are really standing face to face with your mortality the vast majority of you will wish for the choice to choose life. Take pleasure in the small things, be the best person you can be. I have tried sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully to inspire those close to me to eat in a healthier way. Imagine if you will that you have been told that unless you change your habits that you will develop a terminal illness. How does that make you feel? Like a large foot just kicked you in the stomach? Well my dear, it is quite literally true that unhealthy lifestyle will kill you sooner or later. The problem really is this; for you cynics out there that say “I don’t care.” You think that dying young is preferable to dying sick and old, but you don’t get it yet; you will be young and sick and dying.

The most difficult hurdle to cross is accepting that you have to make a change and following through with the desire to change. My eldest son was critically ill during the blackout of August 2003 with life threatening antibiotic resistant pneumonia; learning at the age of 19 that life can be fragile was a difficult lesson for all of us. (more…)

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dscn0449A rainy spring day seems like the perfect time to make a pot of homemade soup. Its pouring here today so while the garden soaks up Mother nature’s bounty I’m going to go make some hot nourishing soup.

Pumpkin Soup

Recipe information: I first made this soup in the fall of 2006. Jay’s 1st year of College, it quickly became a favourite. Best made with fresh pie pumpkin (use butternut squash if pumpkin not available or a combination) The bright and beautiful flesh of the  pumkin and butternut squash are rich sources of nutrient prized for their hefty doses of the antioxidants vitamin A and beta-carotene. It feels great to eat something that is as good for you as it is to eat.

Ingredients

1 small sweet pumpkin (aka. Pie pumpkin)

Or 12 cups peeled and large cubes Butternut Squash

3 carrots sliced

1  large onion

2  stalks celery

1  large piece celery root (aka celeriac)

2  small cloves garlic

2  tblsp. Butter

2 sprigs thyme

½ tsp ground coriander seed)

2-3 tblsp. Curry Powder (optional- jazz up flavour)

1 bay leaf

1 carton organic chicken or vegetable broth

add water or milk to obtain desired thickness

Pinches of salt and pepper.

generous pinch of nutmeg

Directions

  • Peel pumpkin or squash. Cut in half discard seeds. Chop pumpkin into cubes (approx 12cups)
  • Chop onion & celery. Mince garlic. Saute until onion softens 3-4 min. Stir in pumpkin. Add thyme, bay leaf and coriander. Stir. Add broth.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover & simmer 20min. or until pumpkin is soft. Remove thyme & bay leaf.
  • Puree with hand held blender or food processor until pureed, then strain back into saucepan. (My family actually prefer this soup not too smooth)
  • If soup is too thick add more broth. Keeps well refrigerated up to 3 days.
  • Just before serving garnish with cream, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Bon Apetit!

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Friday dinner is usually something quick & easy. My son loves this and now makes his own spiced up version. Jay likes to use flavoured cream cheese.

Jays favourite Alfredo Sauce

Recipe information: Use this recipe for pasta or stir fried chicken (with loads of lovely fresh greens to balance flavor)

Ingredients
1/8-¼ cup butter
½ cup light cream cheese 
½ cup or more milk 
1-2 cloves garlic smashed. 
1/8-1/4 cup parmesan or romano cheese
 pepper
 salt 
 
Directions
1. Saute garlic in butter.
2. Stir cream cheese into butter stirring constantly
3. When cream cheese & butter smooth gradually add milk. To finish add parmesan. 
4. Bring mixture to gentle boil until thickened.  Can be simmered (covered) in microwave. 
5. Season with salt & pepper as desired. Serve with a little parmesan for garnish.
6. Adjust quantities to suit desired thickness.
Bon Apetit!

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Much easier to make this salad in summer when seasonal vegetables may be had locally. A great hit any time of year though.

Barb’s Version of 100 Mile Salad +-

10 small red potatoes

1 bunch new carrots

½ lb green beans sliced diagonally

8 oz cremini or other mushrooms, sliced

1 zucchini or eggplant quartered and sliced

2-3 cloves garlic smashed

1 bunch green onion/ chives chopped or to taste

1/3 cup wild rice (cook & chill)

1can red kidney beans (I used organic) (rinsed)

4 or 5 radishes sliced

8-10 cherry tomatoes cut in halves.

½ cup or as desired Bocconcini Pearls or Mini (cheese)

Fresh dill

1 tblsp chopped capers (Optional – adds extra anti-oxidant punch)

Balsamic vinegar

Olive Oil

Pepper / Salt

Bring potatoes to a boil. Simmer , in last 5 minutes add carrots and green beans. (Be careful not to overcook) Saute Mushrooms, sliced zucchini and garlic briefly. Combine all ingredients Chill to let flavours marry. Bon Apetit!

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This duo will surprise you, a little nutty and a little sour tang-  the humble “caper” and the “pine nut”  stars of the Mediterranean Diet.

I have adopted a “Flexatarian” view about food informed by the reading I do and my own experience trying to sift through the phenomenal glut of information available about food and nutrition. While a meal choice needs must be healthy it also must meet the #1 criteria for my meal planning. It must be delicious! As someone with celiac disease,  food could become an issue to be overcome not embraced instead of a lifestyle choice.

Capers are a cooks delight giving a distinct nearly mustardy taste to complement meats, salads and more.  Beyond their use to provide flavor and interest to meals Capers are unexpectedly a rich source of anti-oxidants thought to show promise in the fight against cancer and heart disease.   Pine nuts are considered nutrient dense – rich in iron, Vit. A, C & D. Pine nuts are also high in protein and other minerals. Try this truly delicious recipe & feel great about another healthy choice.

Orzo with Capers, Cherry Tomatoes and Spinach -To adapt as a gluten free recipe use rice

Ingredients

1 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

½ medium onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup orzo/ rice/ gluten free pasta
2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or broth
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

½ tsp ground coriander seed

8 oz fresh spinach, washed well
1 tblsp capers, drained and finely chopped
1 tblsp pine nuts, finely chopped
1 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tblsp grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

(optional) low fat feta cheese to garnish
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Gluten Free option- Prepare Rice, or small gluten free pasta

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until the tomatoes are tender, about 3 minutes, add Spinach cook gently until just evenly wilted. Set aside.

Gluten Free- Skip Orzo. In a large saucepan, combine the orzo and chicken stock over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the pasta is al dente (tender), about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, until almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Add thyme, capers, pine nuts, cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper to rice or pasta and toss gently to mix. Add tomato spinach mixture and toss. Garnish with feta cheese if desired.

Inspired by recipe from the Mayoclinic.com

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