Friday, June 26, 2009

Recipes as Requested: Barbecued Peanut Tofu with Cheesy Baked Artichokes


Barbecued Peanut Tofu
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

16 Oz Tofu - Extra Firm
20 ml Vegetable oil


For Peanut Sauce :
28 Gram Peanut Butter (unsweetened and natural)
10 Gram Onion (White), Finely Chopped
5 Gram Garlic Clove - Peeled, Minced
56 Gram Coconut Milk (Light)
8 Gram Red Curry Paste
4 Gram Green Curry Paste

For Peanut sauce:
Directions:

1. Saute the onions and garlic until beginning to brown - about 2 minutes on low heat.
2. Add curry paste and continue to cook for 30 seconds.
3. Pour in coconut milk and whisk together until smooth.
4. Add peanut butter and continue to cook for 5 minutes at low heat.
5. Allow to cool and evenly.

For Tofu:
Directions:

1. Pat tofu dry until there is no liquid. Cut into thirds so each portion contains roughly three strips of tofu.
2. In a bowl, toss peanut sauce with oil. Add the tofu and toss to coat. Marinate tofu for 30 minutes.
Preheat BBQ to medium-high and grease grill.
3. Remove tofu from peanut sauce and barbecue for about 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until tinged with dark brown marks and heated through.
5. Pour remaining sauce over tofu.
ENJOY!



Cheesy Baked Artichokes
Serves: 1


Ingredients:

130 Gram Artichoke Hearts (canned)
8 Gram Nuts (Pecans - halved)
5 Gram grated Parmesan cheese
1 Gram Garlic Clove - Peeled, Minced
1/4 DRY TSP Italian Seasoning - Without Salt, Sugar, Etc.
3 ml Olive Oil - Extra Virgin

Directions: NOTE: cut artichokes in half before baking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
1. Place the artichokes in a colander and rinse well with cold water to separate. Drain well, and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Spray baking sheet with Pam and bake artichokes in oven for 7 minutes.
3. In the blender combine the pecans, cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the artichokes.
4. Finish baking artichokes for another 10 minutes and lightly drizzle olive oil once artichokes are finished.
5. Let cool and serve

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being a Locavore Just Got Trendier: Ask your iPhone


It's never been easier to be a locavore than right now! Summer is in full swing (Just in case you've been living under a rock: it's 30°C outside with brilliant sunshine in the city!) and with it comes a whole host of amazing, fresh, local produce to enjoy.


So, what exactly is a locavore? According to dictionary.com, a locavore, is a person who attempts to eat only foods grown locally. Locavores choose to grow their own food or buy foods grown within their region. Why bother, you might ask? By eating locally, you can create a greater connection with your food source and community, resist industrialized and processed foods, reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases through transportation of foods overseas and on land, plus you support your local economy.


Many locavores give themselves several exceptions to their local diet, for example coffee, chocolate, salt, and/or spices. Don't worry though - if you can't find what you're looking for locally, you can always choose organic options - they're just as good (if not better in some senses).


Being a locavore is challenging, indeed. Especially in the winter. But if you're going to give it a try, there's no better time to do it than now. Just yesterday, I visited a local farmer's market in Richmond Hill which gets set up every Wednesday at Hillcrest Mall (Yonge and Carville). I picked up the most delicious plums, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, yellow, orange and red tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, new potatoes, yams, and probably a bunch of other things that I've already forgotten about. I was just so excited I went a little crazy. I literally got so much food I think I need to give some away, and I got it all for under $30. Another perk of buying directly from the producer/grower.


Now's the time to celebrate fresh, local ingredients, so put those kiwis (from New Zealand) aside for the moment and fill your belly with summer berries!


Oh, and if you're not sure what's in season - just hit up your iPhone and download the Locavore 2.0 app. Yep, being a locavore is sooo mainstream...Join the movement!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Plain Old Vinegar May Be a Natural Fat-Fighter


Japanese researchers have just recently added more clout to the age-old theory that vinegar has beneficial, health-promoting properties. The new findings suggest that regular table vinegar can help prevent body fat accumulation and even curb weight gain.

In ancient times, vinegar was used in folk medicine to cure a variety of illnesses. According to these new findings, acetic acid, the main component found in vinegar, might actually aid in a range of health issues including controlling blood sugar levels, fat accumulation and blood pressure.

In the study, the researchers had two groups of mice on a high-fat diet; in addition to their meals, one group received acetic acid and the other received only water. The mice that received vinegar ended up developing 10% less body fat than their water-drinking counterparts. The researchers suspect that the vinegar which was fed to the mice suppressed the accumulation of body fat by 'turning on' some of the genes that oxidize fatty acid.

As great as that all sounds, the findings must be taken with a grain of salt. You see, both groups of mice started out weighing 20 grams - The mice in the vinegar condition ended up weighing an average of 26.6 grams, whereas their water-drinking friends ended up weighing an average of 28.4 grams. So, despite a statistically significant difference between the groups, this may not have much clinical significance at the moment - especially for humans. It remains to be seen.

Given that vinegar has been used to cure ailments throughout history, there may indeed be some truth to this still-developing story. Either way, there is no harm in drizzling a little bit of vinegar over your salad! Try it in a home-made oil-and-vinegar concoction for a tasty, healthy and flavourful meal.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Food Inc. and Designer Cows


When I read about what Canadian food scientists are currently working on, I was disturbed, but not entirely surprised. You see, now scientists are designing cows (that there is already creepy) that they claim will be better for the planet and reduce global warming. How, you might ask? Simple - the cows will just be tailor-made to burp less. Stephen Moore, a professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton calls these special cows "efficient animals".

It's no secret that the meat industry is responsible for releasing a whopping amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, adding to the crisis of global warming. One of the most troublesome of the greenhouse gases, methane, is released via bovine belches. So, as is often the solution in big business, instead of getting to the root of the problem, scientists are further messing with nature as a band-aid 'solution' to this massive, growing problem. Oh yeah, and these same scientists are also working on shrinking cattle's ecological footprint by breeding cows that grow faster so they can spend less time standing around. Yay!

Forgive me if I'm sounding a bit pessimistic here, but I'm also currently reading Food, Inc., the follow up to the eye-opening film, which is an expose of the entire food industry with exquisitely-written, powerful pieces filled with not-so-fun facts that the head honchos don't want you to know about. The chapters regarding the meat and especially beef industry were especially eye-opening and haunting. This is also the reason why I'm not surprised to hear about these genetically-modified cows as solutions to bigger and much more complicated problems.

I've already decided to choose organic food products as often as possible, and I simply can't see the food industry or the grocery store in the same light as I did just last week. I agree with a quote on the back of the novel, that this book does for the grocery store what Jaws did for the beach. I thought about that line as I exited the grocery store the other day and saw a bag of 'barbecued pork rib flavoured potato chips"...think about that for a second.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Impaired Feeling of Fullness Might Explain Overeating in Obese Individuals


Scientists may have discovered a physiological link that explains why obese individuals tend to overeat and gain weight as a result.

According to research from the Miriam Hospital, the study, published in Obesity Surgery suggests that some individuals who are continuously exposed to specific foods lose their sensitivity to those foods, and as a result they feel less satisfied when eating them. In order to compensate for the lack of feeling full or satisfied, they eat more.

The researchers in this study compared rates of saliva output in both normal-weight and obese individuals using cotton rolls placed in the mouth while they tasted lemon juice a total of ten times. In obese patients, rates of salivation did not decrease across the trials, compared with normal-weight participants. In other words, in normal-weight individuals, after being exposed to a specific food many times, the food becomes less attractive and feelings of fullness or satisfaction with the food increases, causing salivation to subside. In contrast, in obese patients, it takes longer for them to feel satisfied, they continue to salivate at the same rate, and as a result, they tend to over eat.

According to Dale Bond, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center focused on habituation, "The failure of [severely obese individuals] to habituate suggests that satiation, or the feeling of fullness while eating, is impaired in this population. This could play a role in the inability of some severely obese individuals to regulate or control the amount of food that they eat during a meal"

The good news is that, more and more, we're learning about the deeper-rooted causes underlying obesity, and that there's more to obesity than just 'eating too much'. Hopefully some day in the near future we'll be able to help individuals suffering from disordered patterns of eating just the same as we treat other diseases and illnesses.

Pics from NIM's Kitchen - Key Lime Coconut Cake Edition

I'm sure there are only a handful of people who can resist a warm, dense, fresh-out-of-the-oven baked cake! I, unfortunately, am not one of those individuals. Naturally, as I watched NIM's chefs bake this culinary marvel, I couldn't wait to try it...and try it I did! I love the tangyness of the lime juice and zest against the sweet, distinct flavour of coconut.
If you're anything like me, you can probably almost taste it through the screen, but for now - enjoy these photos!
The 'before': butter, flour, coconut flakes, brown sugar, eggs, lime zest, milk

the 'after': it's amazing what 10-15 mins in a 350-degree oven can do...



Recipe of the Day: Crustless Spinach Quiche


Rich in B vitamins, filled with protein to help build strong muscles, lutein for healthy eyesight, calcium for strong bones, iron for healthy red blood cells and oxygen transport, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids to keep your heart healthy and your brain sharp.....what more could you ask for in a breakfast? Eat one serving of this nutrient-packed breakfast and you'll start your day off with a bang, but it's also perfect for lunch, dinner or as an appetizer!
Serves: 2

Calories per serving: 205

Description: spinach, eggs, feta cheese, olive oil, pepper

Ingredients:
3 Large Eggs
100 Grams Spinach, Chopped
50 Grams Feta Cheese
4 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and cook until excess moisture has evaporated.
3. In a bowl whisk eggs and ground pepper and set aside.
4. Add spinach to greased ramekins, then cheese and then egg mixture.
6. Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Cool in fridge.
7. Garnish with fresh spinach leaves if desired.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hungry? Want to Stay Healthy? Skip the Burgers, Here's 85 Alternatives

Last week, Mike Michalowicz from the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur wanted to know what us busybodies do on the go when we're hungry. How do we stay healthy and in good shape when we're always out, and the most 'convenient' foods are not usually the best for our health (and are loaded with fat, salt and empty calories!).

Well, I decided to share one tip of my own, and lucky for me, I made Mike's list. To view the entire list, click here. Scroll to #57 for my contribution!

Cheers and happy snacking!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Meatless Monday: Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Michael Pollan and YOU!


"One Day A Week, Cut Out Meat"...That's what Paul McCartney is saying today. The former Beatle is making headlines today by joining the ranks of famous vegetarians like Yoko Ono and millions of others including Michael Pollan, renowned author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma to encourage you to go meatless on Mondays.

Going meatless just one day a week not only significantly helps you decrease your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, heart disease and stroke, obesity and diabetes but it also makes your carbon footprint a little bit smaller by reducing carbon emissions related to the meat and livestock industry. Even though one day a week might not seem like a huge deal, going veggie for 52 days a year equals about 15% of the year, which, for anyone, is pretty impressive! Plus, if you consider how great you'll start feeling, you might even go veggie twice or three times a week!

Meatless Mondays are a great way to make sure you get enough fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes and all the other stuff that you might be neglecting, especially now that it's grilling and barbecue season. Take the opportunity to throw some fruits and veggies on the grill - you can grill a ton of stuff that you may never have thought possible, from peaches to lettuce to grapes, to the more common but equally delicious red peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini, eggplant, portobello mushrooms....and the list goes on!

According to McCartney, Mondays are a great day to go veggie since many of us like to indulge over the weekend and could use a slightly lighter fare anyways! In addition, studies show that we're more likely to stick to routines if we do things on Mondays, since we have the opportunity to make a fresh start and set our intentions for the week. Hey, it's good for your heart, good for the planet and it might even help you drop a dress (or pant) size! What's stopping you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recipe of the Day: Banana Bread Muffins with Fresh Strawberries


Mmmm...Who doesn't love the smell of fresh-baked banana bread, straight out of the oven? There's just this amazing warmth that the scent of brown sugar mixed with bananas lend to the kitchen.

And who doesn't have strawberries at home this time of year? If that's you - what are you waiting for? It's Summertime - go get some!

Just follow these simple steps to bake your own individually portioned, easy to transport Banana bread muffins, perfect for a summer picnic...or just to make your co-workers super jealous!


Banana Bread Muffins with Fresh Strawberries

Serves: 9

Description: eggs, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, bananas, strawberries

Ingredients:

1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
250 Gram Whole Wheat flour
3 Gram Kosher salt
70 ml Vegetable oil
340 Gram Bananas, Mashed
8 Gram Baking Soda
540 Gram Strawberries, Halved


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Grease muffin tray.
3. Mix sugar, oil, and egg until creamy and light yellow.
4. Add bananas, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir until completely smooth. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins (70 grams per muffin).
5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until toothpick poked in center muffin comes out clean.
6. Serve each muffin with 60g strawberries (washed, dried, stems removed and halved).

ENJOY!!

Pics from NIM's Kitchen - Friday Edition

Check out what our Kitchen crew has just whipped up!






Let your voice be heard - what do you think of our new packaging for salads?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Starbucks: Helping you be Healthier, One Frapp at a Time


Good news for all you Starbucks lovers out there (me! me! me!..and Britney Spears). Now you can have your cake (or Frapp) and eat it too!

According to a new press release by the coffee giant, Starbucks is planning to roll out a whole new range of healthy-conscious products that will make you feel like you just indulged without feeling like you just got caught with your hand in the cookie jar!

Now we all know that Starbucks is like the Mecca for coffee indulgence, and their cookies are the size of my face, but lately, they've been trying really hard to include healthier options on their menu! Recently, fruit cups, low-fat yogourt parfaits, smoothies and oatmeal cups for breakfast have been popping up for sale in the cafes. And on June 30th, in a campaign called "Real Food. Simply Delicious", the java giant is launching the sale of baked goods sans high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours or dyes, and they're also introducing some new salads. The company is also going to remove preservatives wherever they can.

According to Michelle Gass, Starbucks' executive vice president of marketing, "Food has been the Achilles' heel of the company ... That statement will be long buried after we launch this program,"

Oh yeah, did I mention they're also revamping the Frappuccino to make it a little easier on your waistline? The new formula will first be tested in Dallas this summer. Somewhere, Britney Spears just shed a single tear of joy.
What do you think: Would you give this stuff a shot?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

POLL: What would you rather carry your lunch around in?





an insulated lunch tote such as the one above made out of wet-suit material
........OR









a small reusable tote with longer straps made of coated fabric?



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Computers, More Injuries


Remember the days when having just one computer was something of a luxury? It used to be that family members would take turns sharing one single computer, and that was enough. Well, as we all know, those days are long gone, and I mean loooong gone.

If you really think about it, computers are everywhere these days - and so are their cables. And according to a new study, the same goes for injuries.

The study, published in the latest issue of The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, has found that we're hurting ourselves more than ever as the number of our household computers increases. Between the years of 1994 and 2006, there has been a seven-fold increase in tripping-related injuries as well as an increase in head injuries thanks to falling monitors, oftentimes leading to a visit to the ER.

The main culprit in terms of computer-related injuries is the monitor, although the severity of these injuries has actually declined in recent years thanks to the lighter, flat-screen varieties. Not too surprisingly, those injured the most tend to be small children under the age of five as well as the elderly, aged 60 and over. The most common injuries include lacerations, abrasions and bruises, as well as bumps to the head. Who would have figured that computers could be so dangerous and so hazardous to our health?

To keep yourself and your family safe, keep your computer away from commonly-walked paths and on a safe, stable surface and tuck away as many loose cables as you can.

So next time you're passing by your computer, be sure to keep a heads up (...or down?). Don't become a statistic - Practice safe computing!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekly Weigh-Ins Help Overweight Teens Manage Their Weight


Throughout the course of the week, heck even throughout the course of the day, our weight fluctuates based on a multitude of factors. Our food and drink intake (and output), and our activity level, just to name a few, can all contribute to fluctuations in our weight. For these reasons, frequent weight-ins are not recommended - especially in teens - as this behaviour can lead to some pretty nasty and unhealthy self-image issues.

Put all that on the back burner, though, because regular weigh-ins can be just what the doctor ordered for individuals struggling with managing their weight. This is true even for teens, according to a new study just published. The findings, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, suggest that in overweight teens, weigh-ins at least once a week can assist in weight management and improve their overall health behaviours.

In the study, two groups of overweight teens - those who weighed themselves at least once a week, and those who weighed themselves once a month or less - completed a survey on weight control behaviors, dietary intake, physical activity, and sedentary activity. Height and weight were also measured. It was found that the teens who weighed themselves more often were more likely to follow a structured diet and practice healthy weight control behaviours such as consuming fewer calories and reducing fast food, high-fat food and and "junk food" intake. They were also more likely to participate in more strenuous physical activity and played less video games than their infrequent-weighing counterparts.

Overall, the findings suggest that, in individuals struggling with excess weight, weekly weigh-ins can help reinforce healthy behaviours. These weigh-ins sort of act as a reminder that healthy weight control behaviours can help the numbers on the scale (and your waistline) get smaller, whereas unhealthy behaviours can do just the opposite. The researchers go on to state that "self-monitoring of weight may be a useful component of a comprehensive weight management plan". Hey, even though it's not a revelation, it's really nice to know that it truly does work.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bacon Potato Chowder and Photos from NIM's Kitchen

Yesterday, NIM Executive Chef Domar Francis and I took some photos of ingredients as he prepared them for our customers. I couldn't help myself when I saw the gorgeous red peppers, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, celery, onions and BACON...just to name a few ingredients that NIM's chefs were working with.

In addition, we took a few photos to showcase the making of our creamy Bacon Potato Chowder. With ingredients like these, it's no wonder this soup is a huge hit with customers. I wonder if it has anything to do with the bacon on top?


View the photos here
Pics from NIM's kitchen


and even more, here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Take a Tomato Pill to Tackle Heart Disease


More and more we're hearing about how great tomatoes are for us, especially for men, thanks to their lycopene, a naturally occurring potent antioxidant which gives tomatoes and other fruits and veggies their characteristic red colour. There has been a great deal of research suggesting that lycopene can help stave off certain types of cancer, most famously prostate cancer, but now there's even more reason to get your fix!

Thanks to some clever scientists out of Cambridge University in the UK, the caroteniod lycopene found in tomatoes has been concentrated and and made easier for your body to absorb in a convenient little pill form! The pill, called Ateronon, is meant to be taken once a day and it has been shown, in clinical trials, to protect LDL ("bad" cholesterol) from being oxidized. If LDL becomes oxidized, it builds up into a plaque inside of arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and upping your risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to the creators of the pill, "Ateronon is the first and only lycopene-based supplement with proven levels of bioavailability for lycopene and proven effectiveness at helping to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.".

If you're looking for a more "natural" way to get your daily dose of lycopene, try cooking your tomatoes (or use cooked tomato products such as sauces) and add a splash of olive oil or salad dressing to help your body absorb it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Even Obama Flips for Burgers


In case you weren't aware, the Obamas are normally quite the healthy-conscious family, but from time to time, just like us regular folks, they have cravings, too.

This past Friday, US President Barack Obama was spotted at Five Guys burger joint ordering up one of America's best-known exports, a burger. The President got himself a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers, and mustard. Not to be outdone, First Lady Michelle Obama has been known to sneak out from time to time for a burger, herself!

Hey, at least they're both wise enough to avoid downing a "Whipper Burger" (Pastrami burger with two quarter pound beef patties with cheese topped off with sausage), a "Heart-Attack-On-A-Bun Burger"(A burger wrapped bacon topped with an egg and grated cheddar cheese) , or a "Camvan Carnage" (Two fried chicken breast burgers with eight strips of bacon, melted cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, and four slices of butter on fried wheat bread), all courtesy of thisiswhyyourefat.com.

Both the President and First Lady know that the key to staying fit and trim is to practice healthy eating habits and stay active, but it's totally fine to go out for a treat every once in a while to maintain some balance in your life!