Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recipes as Requested: Apple Cinnamon and Maple Oatmeal

We love it when our customers are happy and rave about our recipes - it makes us all warm and fuzzy inside. Here's what a customer had to say about our Apple Cinnamon and Maple oatmeal in a recent e-mail:
"Your apple oatmeal...I had it for breakfast last week and my daughter really loved it (and ate most of it for that matter!)....can you please tell me what brand you guys use and/or how it’s prepared to make it so yummy?"

Well - we're always glad to post whatever recipes put a smile on your faces and help you ahieve your weight loss goals at the same time. Here it is:

Apple Cinnamon and Maple Oatmeal
Serves: 1
Calories per Serving: 293
Description: oatmeal, apples, cinnamon, maple syrup, milk

¼ of 1 Royal Gala Apple - Peeled, Cored and Diced
75 ml Apple Juice
100 ml Water (Cold)
20 ml Maple Syrup (Pure/Natural)
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
40 Gram Oats (Quaker Large Flakes 10 - 15 min. cook time)
2 Oz Milk - 1%, partially skim (optional)

1. Core and chop Apples.
2. Bring water, apples, apple juice, cinnamon, maple syrup to a boil.
3. Immediately stir in oats and reduce heat to a simmer, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Allow to cool. Add milk if desired.
5. Enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recipe as Requested: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Mmm Mmm....fresh-baked cookies!! Yep, cookies are something I'm pretty familiar with after baking up a storm this weekend. I think I've exceeded my quota for butter, flour, sugar and chocolate chips for the year.

Isn't it funny how nobody can seem to wait for cookies to finish baking? From the moment the dough is put together, it's already being eaten up and licked off the spoon! Then comes the actual baking part...we meticulously count down the seconds til the cookies come out of the oven and then we can't seem to keep our hands off of them before they've had a chance to cool and set! Yes - cookies truly are special - they have the power to turn that frown upside-down, and funny enough their scent can even help sell a house (some real-estate agents spray 'fresh baked cookie' scent when doing open houses!)!

Well, enough talk and more baking - Here's the recipe for NIM's oatmeal raisin cookies as requested :)
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes: 56 cookies
Calories per cookie: 82
Description: oats, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, cinnamon, raisins, butter
200 Gram Butter, Unsalted, Softened
3/4 Cup Splenda or White Sugar
190 Gram Brown Sugar
2 1/4 Eggs
1 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
180 Gram All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
260 Gram Oats (Quick Cooking)
170 Gram Thompson Raisins


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. In large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
3. Stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
5. Cool and Enjoy!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NIM Recipe of the Day: Watermelon Feta

Speaking of the health benefits of watermelon (see below), I though it would be fitting to provide you all with a gorgeous and delicious (not to mention, popular) way to enjoy the water-filled summer treat that we serve here at NIM.
It might sound a bit peculiar at first, but trust me - this will quickly become one of your favourites. Wow your friends and family with this unique combination of flavours, textures and aromas and reap the health benefits at the same time! Amp this snack up into a salad by adding baby spinach, red onions and a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Watermelon Feta
Serves: 1
Calories per serving: 76
Description: watermelon, feta cheese
170 Gram Watermelon
10 Gram Cheese - Feta

1. Cut Watermelon into 1.5 inch thick chunks.
2. Dice Feta into 1/4 inch squares.
3. Sprinkle the feta over the watermelon.
4. Garnish with basil or fresh mint

Not Getting Enough Water? Eat Your Way To Hydration

Are you one of the many people who find it easier and more appetizing to grab a coffee on the go rather than downing a bottle of plain, flavourless water? I mean, they're the same price at the store. If so, you're not alone. Sure, coffee, tea and sodas are indeed liquids that might temporarily quench your thirst, however they also contain caffeine, a diuretic, which will ultimately result in a greater amount of water loss throughout the day, and oftentimes, dehydration.

Many people mistakenly think that since they're tired and run down, reaching for caffeinated beverages might temporarily restore their sense of wakefulness. But, as you might know from experience, this trick doesn't always work. The reason, you're probably dehydrated!

So what's a person to do? Well, aside from keeping a bottle of water by your side whenever possible, try keeping a stash of water-rich foods like celery, cucumber or watermelon nearby to nosh on throughout the day. The reason? Well, not only are these foods very low in calories as a result of being nearly 90% water, they are also loaded with vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimal health. Translation: they can give you a much-needed energy boost when you're feeling drained. Prime examples - the 3 o'clock slump or right after the gym.

Studies have shown that the replenishing electrolytes found in foods such as watermelon, cucumber and celery allow them to be up to two times more hydrating than plain old water, similar to the effects of sports drinks like gatorade. But, quite unlike gatorade, these foods contain no artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners or additional refined sugars!

But wait just a minute, now - don't think you can cop out of drinking those 2.5L of water per day just because you're downing some extra watermelon. Be sure to drink plenty of water in addition to consuming water-containing foods in order to cut down on calories, stay full and hydrated, counteract the dehydrating effects of caffeine and rev up your metabolism!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Camels to Produce the Godiva of the Middle East?

Coming soon to a shelf near you: Chocolates made from Camel's milk. As wacky as this might sound, you might soon be able to purchase these 'luxury products' in fine department stores such as Harrods in London and San Francisco's Famous chocolate shop, Chocolate Covered, not to mention other posh outlets.

Dubai's chocolate producer Al Nassama, in partnership with Austrian chocolate maker Manner aims to produce 100 tons of these 'premium' high-end chocolates per year all thanks to the 3,000 camels on their Dubai farm. You can buy their chocolates directly from the store attached to their farm, or if farms aren't your thing, you could always find these goodies in luxury hotels and on private airlines.

Al Nassama's general manager Martin Van Alsick said that the chocolates will never be sold in conventional supermarkets because they are luxury goods that are meant to be enjoyed just like Godiva's. The chocolates contain no preservatives or chemical additives and are complimented by exclusive spices, nuts and honey. Not to be out shined by 'conventional' chocolates, camel's milk chocolates are much higher in vitamin C and insulin than those made with cow's milk, plus they're lower in fat and lactose.

Well...camels aren't exactly the most attractive or appealing animals and milk isn't really my thing, but I have to admit I'd be willing to try some of these goodies - how about you?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Eat Citrus Fruits to Cut Fat, Prevent Diabetes

For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of citrus fruits is good old vitamin C. The thing is, for most people in the western world, it's almost impossible not to get enough vitamin C, unless of course you've got some additional health complications. So why should we increase our intake of citrus fruits, you ask? Well, according to new research out of London, Ontario from the University of Western Ontario, a compound found in citrus fruits could help prevent weight gain and halt the development of metabolic syndrome.

According to the researchers, a flavinoid (plant-based phytonutrient and antioxidant) called naringenin could help prevent type 2 diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease by correcting the elevation of blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels as well as preventing the development of insulin resistance and stabilizing blood glucose. The researchers suspect that this is achieved by the liver which burns excess fat instead of storing it as it normally would in situations where excess fat is floating around.

The researchers fed two groups of mice high-fat diets representative of a typical Western diet, but one group's diet was supplemented with naringenin. The group that was fed only a high-fat diet became markedly obese, but this was not the case with the group treated with naringenin.

According to Murray Huff, Director of the Vascular Biology Research Group at Robarts and Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry "These studies show naringenin, through its insulin-like properties, corrects many of the metabolic disturbances linked to insulin resistance and represents a promising therapeutic approach for metabolic syndrome."

So, while this finding looks really promising for the future, it doesn't mean you should go crazy and load up on grapefruits, oranges and lemons. Adding a few more citrus fruits into your diet is fine - especially if you add a slice of lemon or orange into your glass of water, but for godssake, PLEASE DON'T go on the grapefruit diet!!

NIM Recipe of the Day: Mango Burger with BBQ Sauce

Being that it's barbecue season and today just happens to be one of the nicest (read: most summer-like) days in the past few weeks, it's time to get grillin'!! For those of you who grill religiously and for those who haven't yet grilled this season (what, are you nuts?), this burger, topped with fresh, ripe mango and barbecue sauce will quickly become one of your all-time favourites - I promise!! Enjoy this with a side of veggies or open-faced on a whole-grain bun!

Mango Burger with BBQ Sauce

Serves: 4
Calories per serving: 267
Description: chicken, veal, mango, Dijon mustard, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, spinach, spices

2 tsp. Garlic Clove - Peeled, Chopped
1 Large Egg
12 g Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
8 ml Worcestershire sauce
220 g Meat - Chicken (Ground, Extra Lean)
220 g Mango, Peeled and Sliced as Large as possible - 1 slice per person
1/2 tsp Salt (kosher)
112 g Spinach, - Frozen, thawed and all water squeezed out and chopped

4 oz your favourite barbecue sauce (1 oz per person)

Directions: Preheat Grill to med-high.
1. Ensure spinach has thawed and squeeze dry.
2. In large mixing bowl, mix spinach with veal, chicken, worcestershiree sauce, mustard, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper.
3. Form into four - 140g patties.
4. On baking sheet lined with parchment, place burgers into 375 F convection oven for 12 - 15 minutes or until just firm to touch.
5. Finish by lightly grilling, marking criss cross style on both sides
6. Slice Mango as large as possible.
7. Lightly grill mango by marking criss cross style both sides.
8. Add mango on top of burgers and serve with 1 oz of BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NIM Recipe of the Day: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Today we're going traditional. Who doesn't love a fresh, dense carrot cake, generously spiced with the warm flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon and loaded with a gooey cream cheese icing? OK maybe I'm biased (It's my all-time fave) but I know I'm not alone on this one!

This is a rather large recipe that serves 24, so bake away and share with friends and family. There's something so warm and inviting about a fresh carrot cake that you just can't help sharing the spoils with others!

Well, here it is - include a slice of this cake for dessert as part of a healthy, balanced diet and, just like the folks on our program, you too can lose weight! Happy Baking!

Carrot Cake
Serves: 24
Calories per serving: 250
Description: eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, carrots, butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, margarine, baking powder, baking soda

4 Eggs
300 Gram Sugar (Brown), Unpacked
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
330 Gram Flour (All Purpose)
4 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder 1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon1 tsp. Nutmeg
400 Gram Carrots, Grated
250 Gram Butter, Unsalted

For Icing:
70 Gram Cream Cheese
210 Gram Confectioners' sugar or Powdered Sugar
90 Gram Margarine

1. Preheat convention oven to 350 degrees - grease a 12 by 8 pan with Pam.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
3. Cream sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs 1 by 1 and beat until light fluffy then add vanilla.
4. Fold flour mixture into egg mixture without over-working the flour.
5. Fold carrots into mixture and pour batter into pan and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes.
6. Remove cake from oven. Check to see if it's finished by inserting a toothpick into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, then the cake is finished.
7. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. To remove cake from pan, turn pan over onto a wire rack. Cool completely and then portion.
8. For icing, cream the cream cheese, margarine and icing sugar together until smooth and then top the carrot cake with it.

NOTES: For convection ovens- preheat oven to 325 and bake for 25-35 minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Executive Chef

This afternoon I had the chance to speak with NIM's Executive Chef, Domar Francis. It was a joy to chat with him about his food, what his days are like and what he likes to eat. Here is a glimpse of what it takes to organize and run a busy kitchen while staying upbeat and energetic.

NIM: What is your busiest day of the week?
DF: Probably Tuesdays.

NIM: OK, what does a typical Tuesday look like for you, from the moment you wake up until you head home after work.
DF: I wake up around 6am, shower and brush my teeth. While I'm getting dressed and ready for work, I catch up with the latest sports highlights and news from around the world and I leave the house at 7:15. I get to work by around 7:50, open up and look at the objective and recipes for production for the day. Fresh produce arrives at around 8:15 and I check every single item by hand for perfection to ensure that it meets my standards. After that, I put it all away and check my emails and customer feedback on my computer.

By around 9am, my staff and I have a morning meeting where I inform and direct them on the day's goals and objectives. Later on, I work on creating new recipes, cooking meals and then I go over everything with our Nutritionist to make sure that all of my recipes are nutritionally sound and comply with NIM's standards and philosophy of healthy meals within a specific calorie range.

By 3pm I do an inventory of the kitchen and put in the food orders for the next day. After that, I work on my weekly reports, meet with the bosses, clean up and head home around 5pm.

NIM: What are the 3 skills you require most to do your job well?
DF: Definitely food knowledge and understanding of food science, time management and meticulous attention to detail

NIM: What do you love the most about your career?
DF: Always working and being challenged. I'm always busy, always on the go and I never get bored.

NIM: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in a typical day?
DF: Ensuring that the quality of the food is consistent every time, whether it's a simple snack or a dinner consisting of many components. Also, creating new recipes or recreating classic recipes that people love and everyone can recognize, like panna cotta, while keeping the calories low enough to fit in our meal plan.

NIM: Where do you look for creative menu inspiration?
DF: Life experience - I do my own research based our fresh ingredients and the things I like to eat. Seeing meals and foods on TV and in the media in general is very inspiring but in every case, I add my own twist to my recipes to add my own signature to them.

NIM: What are some of your favourite recipes?
DF: Butternut squash soup, Bacon potato chowder, Pan seared tilapia with bundle of vegetables, Basmati rice with sauteed vegetables and spiced coconut cream, Egg white scramble with turkey pepperoni and tomato salsa and definitely Cinnamon Rolls.

NIM: What foods could you not live without?
DF: This is a tough one...Butter, garlic, thyme, red snapper, rice & peas and chicken!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Milk, not Juice at Breakfast Assists with Weight Loss

Whenever I think of a 'complete balanced breakfast', flashbacks of Kellogg's cereal commercials from the 90's pop into my mind. Whole grain products paired with low-fat milk, fresh fruit and a tall glass of orange juice are what many of us consider a complete, balanced breakfast that will help us get through our mornings without dragging our feet - at least that's what we've been conditioned to think.
According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, some people may want to skip their morning OJ, especially if they're trying to lose weight.

In a new study, researchers were interested in finding out whether there is a difference in weight loss and feelings of fullness when skim milk is substituted for juice at breakfast. Their hunch was based on recent findings that showed that the proteins found in dairy products, namely whey and casein are more satisfying and keep us feeling fuller for longer than a simple carbohydrate-containing beverage such as a glass of pure 'Florida sunshine'.

34 overweight women and men completed two trials spread a week apart where they consumed a breakfast containing the same number of calories, the only difference being that in one version they consumed 600ml of skim milk, and in the other, 600ml of juice. The participants then rated their feelings of fullness and satisfaction with their breakfasts. Four hours later, all participants were given access to a buffet lunch, and their food intake was measured.

Not surprisingly, those participants who consumed the milk instead of the juice actually felt fuller after breakfast and consumed significantly fewer calories (~200 calories less, on average) at lunch, even though all breakfasts were made up of the same number of calories! Multiply the difference by 7 days a week (1400 calories) and that's an additional half-pound of fat per week, or an extra 2 pounds of fat per month!

What this study goes to show is that while weight loss and gain is really a numbers game, the source of the calories has everything to do with feelings of fullness and the subsequent calories consumed in a day. Bottom line: if you want to stay full and stay on track with your diet without over-eating, reach for foods rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, water and lots of vitamins and minerals and not just empty calories or simple sugars. While this study may be a new one, the bottom line has not changed at all in recent years - Stick to a healthy eating plan and weight loss is pretty much fail-proof.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Recipe of the Day: NIM Tuna Fusilli Pasta

Tuna Fusilli Pasta
Serves: 8
Per Serving: 353 Calories
Description: fusilli, tuna, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, basil, Parmesan cheese

15 ml Olive Oil - Extra Virgin
150 Gram Onion (Red) , Dice, Medium
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Basil (leaves fresh), Thinly Sliced
800 Gram Tomato (Canned)
20 Oz Fish (Tuna, Water-Packed)
1 tsp. Salt (kosher)
1/4 tsp. Pepper (Ground Black Pepper)
510 Gram Pasta - Whole Wheat Fusilli
1/8 tsp. Lemon (Zest Only)
80 Gram Parmesan cheese, grated
4 Garlic Cloves - Peeled, Finely Chopped

1. Over medium heat, sauté the garlic and red onions in olive oil for 1-2 mins then add canned diced tomatoes. Allow to come to a simmer then add tuna. Season with salt & pepper. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes then remove from stove and set aside.
2. In a pot, boil water then add pasta. Allow to cook until al dente (tender on the outside, but with a ‘bite’ on the inside).
3. Once the pasta is cooked, put it back in the pot with the tuna and tomatoes. Return on the stove over medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, add the pasta, lemon zest, basil leaves and cinnamon to it and cook for 1- 2 minutes.
4. Top off with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Get Fat to Fight Heart Disease

OK - I don't mean make a beeline to your nearest McDonalds or KFC; don't get confused. More and more, studies are showing that reaching for healthy fats, the kind found in nuts, does a body good.

According to a new study published in this month's edition of the Journal of Nutrition, increasing nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a lowering of total cholesterol, including LDL (the bad kind). The researchers followed type-II diabetic women who consumed 1-oz of nuts or 1 tbsp of peanut butter per day for 5 days of the week and found that, compared to women of the same health profile who did not consume nut products, their overall health and risk of CVD was markedly improved.

Furthermore, another new study just published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition adds even more clout to these claims. In this study, researchers were interested in discovering what effect the consumption of walnuts in particular had on blood lipids (which are key players in the progression and onset of CVD).

Walnuts, as you may or may not know, are very high in Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (or PUFA's), which are excellent for your heart and overall health. Half of the participants in the study supplemented their diets with walnuts for 4-24 weeks, whereas their control counterparts did not. Over all, in individuals consuming high amounts of walnuts, total cholesterol (including LDL) was significantly decreased, but HDL (good cholesterol which lowers risk of CVD), did not decrease (this is a good thing!).

So guys, the bottom line is this - adding a small handful of mixed nuts, especially almonds and walnuts to your diet, or spreading a tablespoon of peanut butter on your toast or veggies is not only a great way to get lasting energy and curb hunger, but it will also keep your ticker healthier and...er...ticking (for lack of a better word) for longer! Just a word of caution, however - an ounce of mixed nuts is valued at about 165 calories, and a tablespoon of good ol' PB packs about 100 calories, so just be cognizant of this fact when you're incorporating these foods into your diet. Substitute one serving of your usual butter or margarine with PB and grab your trail mix instead of a granola bar and you should steer clear of weight gain.

Well, what are you waiting for? Chow down! Embrace those (Mono- and Polyunsaturated) fats!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Cook Your Carrots Whole to Ward Off Cancer

Eh...What's up, doc? Take a hint from your old friend Bugs bunny and cook your carrots whole for the biggest health benefit! OK, so you might need to invest in some bigger pots, but according to researchers, the cancer-fighting benefits of carrots are increased by a whopping 25% if you just cook them whole!

The science behind this recommendation is as follows: when you chop up your carrots (and other veggies) before you cook them, you increase the surface area that is exposed to boiling water or other heat sources, allowing precious and valuable nutrients to escape into their surroundings or be destroyed. In the case of carrots, 25% of the cancer-fighting nutrient falcarinol is lost when you chop them up before cooking. Skip the chopping and boost the benefit by 25%!

Oftentimes, heating veggies actually helps you absorb nutrients better, as is the case of carrots and tomatoes, but on the other hand, exposure to heat (and even light) can also destroy invaluable nutrients such as vitamin C, some B vitamins and even vitamin A. So, in order to get the full effect and benefit from the fruits and veggies you're consuming, try quick-cooking them whole (just blanche them) and then chopping them up after. Yes, folks, it's OK to cut them into bite-sized pieces afterwards...you don't need to actually eat your carrots à la Bugs (but who's judging?)!

So the question remains - does this really matter to you? Are you going to notice any marked improvements in your health? Well, I say this - if we're so concerned with eliminating our exposure to minuscule amounts of BPA, pesticides and chemicals in our diet, then why don't we try to increase the minuscule benefits of foods in our diet. We're all aware that the effects of these compounds are cumulative, so in the long-haul, who knows how much (or how little) our health will improve by making small changes in our daily lives. Give it a shot! What have you got to lose?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cankles and Bat Wings: Just Say No

Summer is here and that means it's shorts, t-shirt and bikini season - You know, the dreaded one? For many, summer time is synonymous with not only with sunshine, warm weather, freckles and highlights, but also insecurity, low self-esteem and oftentimes shame.

Think about it - it's the first time our pale Canadian skin gets a chance to peek out from underneath our pants, sweaters and scarves - and sometimes this brings about the realization that 'hibernation mode' may not have been the best plan to follow last winter. Well folks, it's time to ditch that chin sack, skin skirt, elbow frump and those bat wings (Thanks urban dictionary!)

Although weight loss is 80% diet-related, it's important not to neglect that last 20%! What's missing, you might be asking? How about physical activity! By building lean muscle tissue, you will rev up your metabolism and accelerate your calorie-burn and weight loss...not to mention the fact that your clothes will fit better and your health will improve!

Did you know that for every pound of lean muscle tissue on your frame, you burn 30-60 calories per day, even in your sleep? Yup, exercise helps you to increase your muscle mass and decrease your fat mass, increase good cholesterol (HDL) and decrease bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your blood pressure. In addition, it helps you increase your bone density and energy levels as well as your strength, endurance and flexibility, and best of all - improve your self-esteem! Yes indeed, it really can do all of that!

So, if you aren't a member of a gym and you don't have a personal trainer, don't fret - summer is the perfect time to get outdoors and take advantage of the gorgeous weather. The park is your gym. The sidewalk is your cardio machine. Get moving and shed those excess pounds faster than you can say 'yellow polka-dot bikini'!