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October is Healthy Workplace Month!

October is Healthy Workplace Month!

Here’s a quote we found interesting: “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking” ~ Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic” * Many of us spend a big ‘chunk’ of our time at work, and while work time isn’t always sitting time, it did make us pause to think about one of the common challenges related to workplace health. Excellence Canada (formerly the National Quality Institute) recognizes that a healthy workplace is not only good for you, it’s good for business. Healthy Workplace Month is their way of supporting and encouraging individuals and businesses to get involved in healthy activities at work. Their website (http://healthyworkplacemonth.ca/en/) has lots of Healthy Activity Ideas as well as suggestions on how to set goals, evaluate workplace health programs and celebrate success. Here’s a sample of what they suggest in terms of getting active at work: start walking teams and challenges in your work place encourage/support walking meetings schedule stretch breaks bring in a personal trainer for a learn at lunch event They also have ideas for encouraging mental health awareness, stress reduction, play at work, volunteerism  and, our favourite :)!, healthy eating!   * (http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/language/en-US/default.aspx)...

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Friday Night Dinner

Friday Night Dinner

It used to be a standing joke at our house – Friday night would come and someone would say “What should we have for dinner?” and I would say “Black Bean Quesadillas”, which always meant Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas from Bonnie Stern’s Simply Heart Smart Cooking recipe book.  It was published over 20 years ago now (!) but the recipes are still amongst our favourites.  Even though her website says that it’s out of print, it still seems to be available on Amazon.  She also published a whole book of Friday Night Dinners – check it out on her website.   Black Bean Quesadillas are quick, easy and full of flavour.  We almost always used chèvre but you could substitute whatever cheese you have on hand.  Another option is to use the filling as a salad/side for almost anything (chicken breast, fish, mac and cheese, etc).  Whatever option you choose, it makes a great Friday (or any) night dinner.  Bonnie suggests barbecuing them for extra flavour or making them open faced like a pizza.  They can also be made ahead and reheated, and leftovers are great for lunches.   Black Bean Chèvre Quesadillas adapted from Simply HeartSmart Cooking   Serves 6 – Serving Size: 1 tortilla   Ingredients:   1 cup (250 mL) black beans 1 tomato, chopped and drained 1 sweet red pepper, preferably roasted, peeled and chopped 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced ½ cup (125 mL) cilantro 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh chives or green onions 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh basil 1 ½ cups (375 mL) grated light Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese ½ cup (125 mL) chèvre (soft goat cheese) or feta cheese 6  10 inch (25 cm) flour tortillas   Directions: 1.  Preheat barbecue or  heat oven to 400oF (200oC). 2.  Combine black beans, tomato, red pepper, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, chives, basil, Monterey Jack and chèvre. 3.  Place tortillas on counter in a single layer.  Spread filling evenly over one half of each tortilla. 4.  Fold unfilled half over filled side and press together gently. 5.  Place in a single layer on heated grill on the barbecue or on a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven.  Bake for 7 – 10 minutes until the filling is heated and the cheese has melted.   Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 340 kcal, 11 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 43 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 18 g protein.        ...

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Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake

With the bounty of fall vegetables available in gardens and markets at this time of year, we thought we’d serve up a recipe that takes full advantage of the best of fall flavours.  Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake is one of our favourites from the Pure Prairie Eating Plan.  It can be made ahead and served with barbecued chicken for quick weeknight dinner and leftovers, if there are any :), are great for lunches the next day. Roasted Vegetable Penne Bake Serves 6 Ingredients: 2 large zucchinis, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces 1/2 lb (225 g) medium fresh mushrooms, halved 2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil 1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) Italian seasoning 2 cups (500 mL) uncooked penne pasta 14 oz (398 mL) crushed tomatoes, undrained 2 oz (60 g) shredded provolone cheese 3/4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas, thawed 1/4 cup (60 mL) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 3 Tbsp (45 mL) grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter or margarine 1 Tbsp (15 mL)grated Parmesan cheese   Directions: 1. In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, onion, oil and Italian seasoning; toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on an ungreased 15-inch (38 x 25 cm) baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 425°F (220 °C) for 20-25 minutes or until tender. 2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, roasted vegetables, tomatoes, provolone cheese, peas, mozzarella cheese, . cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. 3. Transfer to a greased 11 x 7 inch (28 x 43 cm) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese; dot with butter. Cover and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes. Uncover; bake for another 10-15 minutes or until bubbly. 4. Cut into six squares and garnish with fresh herbs, if available. About This Recipe: Get your veggies in a delicious way with this vegetable bake! There are also three types of cheeses in this recipe. Need I say more? Per Serving: 317 kcal, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 33 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 13 g protein Serve with a 3 oz serving of grilled chicken and add: Per Serving: 199 kcal, 13 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 20 g...

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Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Like making homemade salad dressing, barbecue sauce can be made in minutes and is limited only by your creativity and taste.   This recipe is modified from Ly’s Grilled Fire Ribs in The Chez Piggy Cookbook.  Chez Piggy (www.chezpiggy.com) is a restaurant in Kingston, Ontario where Cathy once stopped for lunch while driving across Canada with her family.  The lunch was so good, she bought the cookbook and the ribs are definitely top of the list for great recipes.  We’ve modified the sauce to reduce the sugar.   Grilled Pork Ribs with Homemade Barbecue Sauce Serves 4.   450 g (1/2 lb) of pork baby back ribs, per person, cut in serving sized pieces 125 ml (1/2 cup) water Juice of half a lemon (about 15 ml (1 Tbsp))   Heat the oven to 325 F.  Add the lemon juice to the water.  Put the ribs on a broiler pan and baste the top with the lemon-water.  Bake about 2 hours, basting with lemon-water every 30 minutes or so.  This will soften and tenderize the ribs.   When the ribs are almost done, you can make the barbecue sauce.   125 ml (1/2 cup) ketchup 30 ml (2 Tbsp) apple cider vinegar or beer 15 ml (1 Tbsp) molasses 15 ml (1 Tbsp) oyster sauce or low-sodium soy sauce 7 ml (1 ½ tsp) Worchestershire sauce 15 ml (1 Tbsp) grated fresh ginger 15 ml (1 Tbsp) minced garlic 1 fresh Thai chili pepper or 7 ml (1 ½ tsp) chili powder or 2 ml (1/2 tsp) red pepper flakes (adjust the heat to taste)   Mix all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce together in a microwave safe container such as a pyrex measuring cup.  Microwave 30 seconds, 3 times, stirring in between.  Makes about 175 ml (3/4 cup).  Can be stored in the fridge for at least two weeks.   Brush the ribs with sauce.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Nutritional Analysis (per serving):  Ribs: 242 kcal, 18 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 0.3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 18.5 g protein, 87 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings: 1 Meat and Alternatives.  Sauce: 60 kcal, 0.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 1 g protein, 498 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings:  0.5 Vegetables and Fruit. Handy Tip:  When you buy fresh ginger, cut it in different sized chunks, put it in a ziplock bag and freeze it.  When you need it, take a chunk equal to the amount you need and let it sit on the counter for about 5 minutes.  It won’t dry out in storage and will be a snap to grate into your favourite recipe.  Try adding it to a fruit or green smoothie for extra...

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Salsa Time

Salsa Time

At this time of year, when the tomatoes are ripe, both Rhonda and Cathy get out their much-spattered recipe cards for their favorite salsa.  By preserving it now, there’s always fresh-tasting salsa on board for eating with taco chips but also to serve as a side for chicken, fish or South American-style beef cuts.  While salsa is pretty easy to make and preserve by canning, it’s also great eaten fresh, with or without cooking.  Another great thing about salsa is the recipe can be varied to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and fruit like peaches is also a great base.   This recipe originally came from our friend Lori-Ann on Prince Edward Island but has evolved over the years.  The big amount on the left makes about 7 half-litre jars of preserved salsa.  The small amount on the right could serve a few friends enjoying drinks on the patio.  Use Roma tomatoes for a thicker salsa.   2.5 L                Roma tomatoes, fully ripe, diced                 500 ml 500 mL           Green peppers, diced                                   100 ml 250 mL           Hot banana peppers, diced (or to taste)    50 ml 500 mL           Yellow onion, diced                                       100 ml 500 mL           Zucchini or golden beets, grated                 100 ml 250 mL           Kernel corn                                                    50 ml 4 cloves          Garlic, minced                                                1 clove 15 mL             Ground cumin                                               3 ml 1                      7.5-oz can tomato paste                               — 250 mL           White vinegar                                                — 15 mL             Salt                                                                  3 ml To taste          Cayenne pepper                                           To taste 250 mL           Chopped cilantro                                          25 ml   For preserving:  Mix all the ingredients together in a large Dutch oven or saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until desired thickness is reached.  In the meantime, prepare jars, lids and rings by washing and then sterilizing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Spoon hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1 cm head space, clean sealing edge, cover with lids and rings, tightening gently.  Process in the boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.  Make sure all the lids have sealed before storing.  (If a jar doesn’t seal, put it in the fridge and use first.)   For serving right away:  Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Enjoy!   Note:  The vinegar is needed to acidify the preserved salsa so that it will safely block the growth of bacterial spores that release toxins.  Vinegar isn’t needed in the fresh recipe but if you’d like a little more zest, try adding 30 ml of apple cider vinegar.   Tips on home canning:  http://www.bernardin.ca/pages/low_acid_foods_introduction_/72.php...

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The Best Protein You Can Eat, According to Nutritionists

The Best Protein You Can Eat, According to Nutritionists

“Protein is the key to keeping cravings at bay, building lean muscle and dropping those last few pounds. But according to a new review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, it’s not just how much protein you eat that’s important: It’s where you get your protein that also matters.”  This is the opening statement to a recent article in the Huffington Post. The article goes on to explain that protein is made up of an assortment of amino acids, and each source of protein differs in the amino acid mix.  Some amino acids are ‘essential’, in other words, we can only get them from food so it’s important that we get enough of these particular amino acids.  Most plant-based proteins don’t have all the essential amino acids so it’s important to either combine them with other plant-based sources or to get your protein from animal sources, which are the most complete source of essential amino acids.  It also explains that each food ‘packages’ protein along with other important key nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron. Eat a variety of protein rich foods to take advantage of their full value. The article lists some of the healthiest sources of protein – eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, whole grains, fish, legumes, Greek yogurt, nuts and leafy greens – and describes their particular benefits.  Click here for the complete article, which also has links to the scientific article.  You may also be interested in this post with high protein breakfast ideas.  It has simple, easy, fresh and tasty ideas....

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Quick and Easy Peach Frozen Yogurt

Quick and Easy Peach Frozen Yogurt

Sweet juicy BC peaches are making their way into the stores these days.  They are delicious just as they are, but for an equally healthy and yummy treat, try peach frozen yogurt or frozen yogurt popsicles.  They could be made with any fresh seasonal fruit.  Freezing the fruit first before blending it with yogurt speeds up the process and makes the end product a bit creamier. We tried frozen strawberry popsicles – they were a hit – as well as frozen peach yogurt.  The frozen peach yogurt was a bit soft.  Letting it freeze overnight probably would have made it a bit firmer, but it disappeared before we had a chance to test that out :)!     Frozen Peach Yogurt adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/instant_peach_frozen_yogurt.html Makes: 4 servings, 3/4 cup (188 mL) each Active Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 10 minutes INGREDIENTS 4 cups  (1 L) coarsely chopped frozen peaches (about 16 ounces) 3 Tbsp (45 mL) honey 1/2 cup (125 mL) plain Greek yogurt 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice PREPARATION Place peaches in a blender or food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped. Combine yogurt, honey and lemon juice in a measuring cup; with the machine on, gradually pour the mixture through the feed tube. Process until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice. Serve immediately or pour into a container or popsicle trays and freeze overnight. NUTRITION Per serving: 145 calories, 1 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 30 g carbohydrates, 0 g fibre, 3 g protein, 24 mg sodium.  Canada Food Guide Servings 1.7 Vegetables & Fruits, 0.2 Milk & Milk Alternatives.          ...

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Zucchini, anyone?

Zucchini, anyone?

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that is a prolific producer AND an adaptable ingredient suitable for everything from appetizers to desserts.  Chances are, if you haven’t got some in your garden then someone you know has some in theirs!  Recipes that include zucchini are just as abundant as the zucchini itself.  The Pure Prairie Eating Plan book has 14 recipes with zucchini in them including salads, soups, breakfast muffins and casseroles.  In addition, there are lots of great recipes available on line – here’s a site that claims to have “29 of most delicious things you can do to zucchini” , and they do look delicious! Here’s one of our favourites adapted from that site.  Savour the sweetness of the corn complimented by the spicy jalapeño and lime.  Serve as a salsa or a side dish.  In the photo we paired it with a basic guacamole (Easy Guacamole pg 154, PPEP) and a simple chicken stir fry with lime, garlic, pepper flakes, red onion and red and yellow peppers (adapted from Three-Way Chicken Kabobs, pg 130 PPEP).  Leftovers are great for lunches.   Zucchini and Corn Serves 4 – Serving Size 1 cup Ingredients:   3 1/2 cups (875 mL) zucchini, cubed 1 cup (250 mL) fresh (approx 2 cobs), canned or frozen sweet corn 1/4 cup (63 mL)  red pepper, finely chopped 1 medium jalapeno pepper, finely chopped 2 tsp (10 mL) canola oil Juice of 1 small lime Salt and pepper to taste   Directions: 1.  If you’re using fresh corn:   Husk and prep the sweet corn.  Boil in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain and cool so that it’s cool enough to cut from the cob.  Cut the corn from the cob and set aside. 2.  In a large frying pan, heat the canola oil over medium to high heat.  Add the zucchini and toast for 3-4 minutes.  Add red and jalapeño peppers, toast for another 2 minutes.  Add the corn and salt to taste (1/4 tsp).  Remove from heat and add lime juice.  Nutritional Analysis (Per Serving):  86 kcal, 3 g fat, o.3 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fibre, 3 g protein, 298 mg...

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Fresh Sweet Corn!

Fresh Sweet Corn!

There’s nothing better or easier to prepare than fresh sweet corn…and now is the time that fresh corn is available in abundance on the prairies.  We usually boil it in a nice big pot of water for 5-8 minutes until it has reached the desired ‘doneness’, dust it with a bit of butter and sprinkle it with salt and pepper to taste.  Leftover corn can be added to salads or salsas.  If you’re looking for something a little different for your next BBQ, try this Mexican style corn recipe.   Serve with Pulse Canada’s  Black Bean Burgers (with or without the buns).       Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn) http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/elote Ingredients Vegetable oil, for brushing 1 teaspoon chile powder ½ teaspoon cayenne powder 8 ears of corn, husked ¼ cup mayonnaise or unsalted butter ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese, Parmesan, or ricotta salata 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges   Preparation Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to high. Brush grill grate with oil. Combine chile powder and cayenne in a small bowl. Grill corn, turning occasionally with tongs, until cooked through and lightly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and immediately brush each ear with 1½ tsp. mayonnaise. Sprinkle each with 1 Tbsp. cheese and a pinch of chile powder mixture. Squeeze 1 lime wedge over each ear and serve. Nutritional analysis (per cob): 160 kcal, 9 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 6 g protein.  Canada’s Food Guide Servings:  1.1 Vegetables & Fruit, 0.3 Milk and...

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Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 3!

Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 3!

People are interested in the Mediterranean Diet pattern because of studies dating to the 1950’s that countries around the Mediterranean (Italy but also Spain, Greece, France) had lower levels of heart disease than European countries with different dietary patterns.  More recent research has upheld the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for preventing not only heart disease but also diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, even dementias like Alzheimer’s Disease.  Why this is true is not known for sure, and everyone has a favourite theory but what is probably true is that it’s not just one food but rather the whole pattern of foods, along with other aspects of lifestyle such as physical activity, the social aspects of eating and so on. The Mediterreanean diet pyramid shows the types of foods included in the traditional diet pattern, underpinned by physical activity and social interactions. Plant-based foods are grouped together and the recommendation is that some of these foods be eaten at every meal.  This is different from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide, which separates Vegetables and Fruits from Grains, but similar in that both recommend the most amount of food servings come from plant-based foods.  Another difference is that the legumes (dried peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas) are included here, whereas in Canada’s Food Guide they are placed in Meat and Alternatives because of their high protein content.  Next up the pyramid comes fish and seafood, which makes total sense when you live next to the Mediterranean Sea (and perhaps next to the Atlantic, Pacific or Arctic Oceans in Canada) but not so much sense in Saskatchewan!  This is followed by poultry, eggs and dairy (mainly cheese and yogurt), recommended daily to weekly.  The top of the pyramid has meats and sweets, which are recommended “less often”, implying less than once per week.  Fluid intake centres on drinking water, with wine in moderation.   One of the recipes we saw demonstrated for us was a delicious, creamy soup base, which we had eaten previously with white beans, possibly cannellini beans.  The amount of each ingredient is an approximation – have fun trying your own versions. Creamy Soup Base with Beans a la Guiseppe  Heat 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 mL) olive oil in a large saucepan. Add one coarsely chopped yellow onion and sauté until translucent but not browned. Pour in about 4 cups (1 litre) of water. Add 2 cubed white potatoes, half a dozen fully ripe cherry tomatoes cut in half and a stalk of celery, chopped. Salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the potatoes disintegrate. At this point, add 1 cup (250 ml) cooked cannellini beans or, as Guiseppe says, whatever you like in your soup – some smoked provolone cheese, ham, fresh spinach or Swiss chard, grated carrots – the great thing about this soup base is that it’s infinitely flexible.  If you like a really smooth soup, put the base in the blender or food processor for a few seconds before returning to the pot and adding the other ingredients. Additional water can be added as needed to achieve the desired...

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