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Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Hot off the press! PPEP Summer Newsletter

Barbecuing is a favourite summer pastime – our summer newsletter tackles the question “Is BBQing healthy?” and features a simple Planked Salmon BBQ menu with fresh potatoes, veggies and dip and Rhubarb-Bumbleberry Pie.  We also identify some opportunities to participate in nutrition research for those of you in the Edmonton area.

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Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 2

Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand, part 2

As we mentioned, Rhonda and Cathy both had the opportunity to travel to the island of Ischia off the coast of Italy earlier this year.  They participated in teaching a course that included a section on the effects of culture and environment on food and eating.  Getting off the beaten track was easy to do and both took advantage of fresh air activities. Ischia is volcanic in origin (from the west side of the island, you can see Mount Vesuvius on the mainland).  The lower elevations are mainly under cultivation with grapes, olive trees, citrus groves and vegetable gardens.  The higher elevations are covered in trees and bushes, inter-wound with many hiking trails.  Climbing to the top of Ischia is a common objective for tourists and we were no exception.  The first part of the hike is through the farmland.  It was interesting to see that vegetable crops such as peas were often planted in between rows of grapes in a vineyard.  There were some terrific views of the shoreline from up on top.  The best part – the restaurant near the summit.  Thick sandwiches of cured meats, mineral water and beer awaited thirsty hikers! Ischia is also small enough that you can easily boat around it in a few hours.  From the ocean you get a different perspective entirely, and you see parts of the island that are extremely rugged, with very little sign of human presence.  We were lucky enough to see several peregrine falcons hunting along the cliff-tops.   After the bracing sea air, a pizza really hits the spot.  Ischia is near to Naples, where the pizza was invented and pizza makers adhere to specific rules for making pizza.  For example, you will never find an extra-large pizza – the rules say a pizza is a maximum of 33 cm.  Interestingly, the flour used for the crust is a blend of Italian and Canadian flours to give it the right properties.  We tried the traditional Margarita (tomato sauce, cubes of mozzarella, fresh basil) and marinara (tomato sauce, oregano, olive oil, garlic) pizzas.  In the traditional wood-fired oven, they take only 90 seconds to...

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Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand

Experiencing the Mediterranean Diet firsthand

Rhonda and Cathy both had the opportunity to travel to the island of Ischia off the coast of Italy earlier this year.  They participated in teaching a course that included a section on the effects of culture and environment on food and eating.  They experienced amazing hospitality staying at La Rotonda sul Mare and eating at La Caserecchia (http://www.ischiareview.com/la-casereccia.html) in the evenings.  We asked them to tell us a bit about their experiences.   PPEP:  What was the most amazing food experience you had while in Italy? R:  The freshness of everything was truly amazing.  Although it was still spring when I arrived, there was local produce available or it was brought in from farmland around Naples, which is a one-hour ferry-ride away.  The Colella family, which owns the restaurant, has their own farm.  The bruschetta was so delicious because of the sweetness of the tomatoes and the flavor of the olive oil. C:  Lemons are famous on Ischia because they are so large and much sweeter than the lemons we import to Canada.  The first night we arrived it was very late but we were taken to the restaurant before going to the hotel.  I was persuaded to try the house special, a linguine in cream sauce with lemon.  Later we had a cooking lesson and learned how to make it:  three ingredients – pasta, cream, lemon zest. PPEP:  What surprised you about the Mediterranean Diet as it was practiced where you were? R:  Well, since we were eating in a restaurant it’s not easy to determine how families were eating in their homes on a day-to-day basis.  One thing that endures is the social aspect of the meal.  Typically we didn’t start dinner until 7:30 or later and would leave around 3 hours later.  Most Italian families didn’t start until later than we did. C:  I wasn’t surprised by the bountiful seafood in the diet.  We had several kinds of fish like sardines and anchovies as well as mussels and shrimp.  I was surprised by the amount of meat because the Mediterranean Diet pyramid suggests meat once per week or less.  That could also have been because we were eating in a restaurant.  I was also surprised that most of the vegetables were cooked, even breaded and deep-fried.  I was also surprised by some differences in food handling.  For example, eggs in grocery stores weren’t refrigerated.   PPEP:  What lessons would you bring from the Mediterranean to the prairies? R:  Take advantage of what’s fresh and in season.  That’s hard to do in the prairie provinces about 8 months of the year, but for the other 4 months, you can amaze your taste buds.  Many grocery stores do try to highlight local produce and there are lots of farmers markets and backyard gardens. C:  Enjoy eating with family and friends.  Try new recipes.  Anything with a vine-ripened tomato in it is twice as yummy.   La Caserecchia Bruschetta For about 8 slices of Italian loaf: ½ cup (125 mL) balsamic vinegar 2 cups (500 mL) cherry tomatoes (halved/quartered) 8 fresh basil leaves, torn 2 cloves minced garlic (or to taste) 1 tsp. (5 mL) dried oregano Salt and pepper (to taste) Olive oil 8 slices of bread such as Italian loaf To make a reduction, gently simmer ½...

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The Benefits of a High Fibre Diet

The Benefits of a High Fibre Diet

In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, Leslie Beck, Nutrition Specialist, asked the following questions: “What if you discovered that eating a high-fibre diet could significantly lower your risk of a disease that, if not diagnosed and managed, has serious long-term health consequences? What if it were as simple as eating oatmeal, chia seeds and raspberries for breakfast, a spinach salad for lunch and some chickpeas and an apple tossed in for good measure?  Would you do it?” She goes on to describe a recently published study (the largest ever investigation into new-onset Type 2 diabetes) on the effects of fibre intake.  The study found that risk of Type 2 diabetes fell by 25% for every 10 grams or more per day of cereal fibre.  Leslie provided the following examples of food combinations that make up 10 grams of fibre: Two slices of 100-per-cent whole grain toast (4 g) + half of an avocado (6.5 g) One cup of oatmeal (4 g) + ½ cup of blackberries (4 g) + 1 tablespoon of ground flax (2 g) One-half cup of 100-per-cent bran cereal (12 g) + ½ cup of blueberries (1.5 g) One cup of cooked quinoa (5 g) + ½ cup of broccoli (2.5 g) + ½ cup of snow peas (2 g) + ½ cup of red pepper (1.6 g) Three-quarters of a cup of cooked freekeh, an ancient grain (8 g) + 1 cup of cooked kale (2.6 g) One cup of cooked brown rice (3.5 g) + ½ cup of lentils (7.8 g) Two seven-inch whole wheat tortillas (4 g) + ½ cup of black beans (7.5 g) 1 cup of whole wheat pasta (6.3 g) + ½ cup of green peas (4.4 g) One medium pear (5.5 g) + ¼ cup of almonds (4.5 g) Four dried dates (6.5 g) + 1/3 cup pistachios (4.2...

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Strawberries!

Strawberries!

We always look forward to fresh local strawberries.  They are another sign that summer has finally arrived.  They make a colourful addition to any meal and they have the benefit of being low in calories but relatively high in nutritional value.  From a nutritional standpoint, they are high in anthocyanin and ellagic acid, an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good source of vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid and contain vitamin-A, vitamin-E and health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin, and beta-carotene in small amounts as well as minerals like potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine. Pam Collacott, CTV News Ottawa’s Food Specialist, recently ran a feature on local strawberries and demonstrated the following Brown Rice and Strawberry Salad.  Click here to see the demo and other strawberry recipes.  The recipe is from Foodland Ontario  www.foodlandontario.ca.  We added the Nutritional analysis.  Add a half a grilled chicken breast per person and a small green salad to complete the meal. BROWN RICE AND STRAWBERRY SALAD Serves 4 to 6. 2 cups (500 mL) chicken or vegetable stock 1 cup (250 mL) whole grain brown rice 1/3 cup (83 mL) each: coarsely chopped pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds ¼ cup (63 mL) each: cider vinegar and vegetable oil 1 tablespoon (15 mL) liquid honey 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground or cracked pepper 3 cups (750 mL) hulled quartered Ontario strawberries 3 Ontario green onions, trimmed and sliced ½ cup (125 mL) torn fresh basil 1/3 cup (83 mL) slivered dried apricots Garnish: Ontario lettuce leaves, fanned strawberries and basil leaves In medium saucepan, bring stock and rice to boil; cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender. Drain off any liquid and let cool. Meanwhile in dry medium skillet, toast pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool. In bowl or jar, mix or shake together vinegar, oil, honey and pepper. Five to 10 minutes before serving, pour dressing over berries and toss to coat. Add toasted nuts, seeds, green onions and basil to rice; stir in strawberry mixture and apricots. Serve at room temperature on lettuce lined plates and garnish with fanned strawberries and basil leaves if desired. Nutritional Analysis per serving, based on 6 servings (by PPEP using EATracker):   Brown Rice and Strawberry Salad (alone): 360 kcal, 25 g fat, 2.8 g saturated fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 5 g fibre, 10 g protein, 120 mg sodium. Canada’s Food Guide Servings: Vegetables and Fruits 1.3, Grain Products 0.3, Meat Alternatives  0.7. Brown Rice and Strawberry Salad served with 1/2 grilled chicken breast and 1/3 cup of spring greens:  455 kcal, 26 g fat, 3.2 g saturated fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 6 g fibre, 29 g protein, 120 mg sodium. Canada’s Food Guide Servings: Vegetables and Fruits 1.7, Grain Products 0.3, Meat Alternatives...

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Summer smoothies

Summer smoothies

Smoothies are great at any time of year…summer’s fresh bounty of fruits and veggies make them particularly great at this time of year.  There are lots of smoothie recipes on line (click here for some yummy ideas) and in cookbooks (Oh She Glows, for example). Here’s a simple recipe made with fresh ingredients I had in my kitchen.   Kale, cucumber and lemon are the basis for it and then the secret is to add your favourite seasonal fruit(s) to sweeten it up just a little. Creamy Kale and Pineapple Smoothie Serves 2, Serving Size: 2 cups Ingredients: 1 cup (250 mL) fresh pineapple, diced 2 medium mandarine oranges 1 large lemon, peeled, seeded and diced 1 medium cucumber, diced 1 1in (2.5 cm) piece of ginger (optional) 1 cup (250 mL) chopped Kale, raw 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, or enough to make the desired consistency Ice cubes (optional) Directions: Layer the ingredients in the blender with the juiciest ones on the bottom, kale on the top.  Blend until smooth, divide and enjoy!   Nutritional analysis (per serving):  141 kcal, 1 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 5.8 g fibre, 4 g protein.  ...

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The Perfect Salad

The Perfect Salad

On a recent trip to Scotland I found myself in a restaurant craving a salad.  Unfortunately there was no salad on the menu.  My heart sank for a moment but when the waitress came by to take our order, I said “All I really want is a salad!”  “No problem”, she replied, “What would you like in your salad?  Greens? Tomatoes, carrots, cucumber?  Meat, cheese, nuts?”  It was as easy as that – and the picture tells it all – it was colourful, fresh and delicious.  I chose halloumi, a grillable cheese made from goat and sheep’s milk, as the protein for my salad. That experience made me think of 2 things:  1) it’s OK to ask for what you want :), and 2) having a salad formula in mind is a nice easy way to include a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables and fruits in your daily meals and have a balanced and satisfying meal.  When I got home I checked and found that I wasn’t the only one thinking a salad formula was a good summer eating ‘tool’.  Cheatsheet.com posted an article called ‘The Formula: 6 Tips to Constructing a Healthy, Satiating Salad’,  it’s based on the following 6 steps: 1.  Pick fresh seasonal greens – spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula – the possibilities are almost endless. 2.  Pick your veggies – tomatoes, carrots, peas, beets, squash, avocado – again, the possibilities are endless. 3.  Pick your protein – meat, cheese, eggs, fish, seafood. 4.  Pick your add-ins – here’s where you can add cheese, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, and eggs 5.  Nuts and cheese – another chance to add nuts and cheese :)! 6.  Dressing – can be as simple as a bit of oil and lemon juice.   Check it out – they have some great tips for pairing savory and sweet veggies with fruits and nuts, cheese, seafood and...

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Nothing says ‘summer’ like barbecuing!

Nothing says ‘summer’ like barbecuing!

No matter what we barbecue, there’s something special about a summer barbecue.  We tend to eat outside on the deck and have friends over more often in summer.  Summer days are longer and life seems to take on a more relaxed pace…and food seems fresher and more flavourful.  Nancy Hughes developed a number of recipes for us for the Pure Prairie Eating Plan and one of our favourites is the Grilled Sirloin with Fresh Horseradish-Mint Relish on page 148.  Here it is again, just in time for the nice warm summer days.  Serve with fresh baby potatoes and asparagus. Grilled Sirloin with Fresh Horseradish-Mint Relish Serves 4  Serving Size: 4 oz (116 g) cooked steak, 1/2 cup (125 mL) relish Ingredients: 1/2 tsp (2 mL) coarsely ground black pepper 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) red pepper flakes 1 lb (450 g) boneless beef sirloin steak, trimmed of fat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil   Relish: 1/2 medium poblano chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped 1/4 cup (60 mL) diced cucumber 1 cup (250 mL) diced tomato 2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh mint 3 Tbsp (45 mL) grated fresh horseradish 4 1/2 tsp (20 mL) cider vinegar 1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt  Directions: 1.  Preheat barbecue to medium heat 2.  Combine the black pepper, salt and pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Brush both sides of the beef with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of canola oil and sprinkle both sides of the beef with the pepper mixture. 3.  Barbecue for 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Use a food thermometer to check internal temperatures: 145oF (63oC) for medium rare; 160oF (71oC) for medium; 170oF (77oC) for well done. Place on cutting board and let stand for 3 minutes before thinly slicing. 4.  Meanwhile, combine relish ingredients in a medium bowl.  Serve beef with relish alongside. About this recipe:  Not only tasty, this steak packs a nutritious punch with 34 g of protein plus iron, B vitamins and other valuable nutrients.  Nutritional Analysis (per serving): 265 kcal, 16 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 5 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre, 34 g protein. Chef’s tip:  You can substitute green bell peppers for poblano and add 1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) dried pepper...

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Rhubarb – Queen of the spring garden!

Rhubarb – Queen of the spring garden!

Rhubarb is hardy, full of flavour and it comes up at a time when everyone is longing for fresh garden produce. It used to be that every Prairie garden had a rhubarb patch. As a result, it’s been used in fruit compotes, baked in crisp, cobblers and cakes, made into jam, relish or chutney and served as a beverage.  This week we’ve adapted one of our PPEP recipes “Fresh Raspberry Muffins” to make “Fresh Rhubarb Muffins”.  The sweet topping contrasts really nicely with the tartness of the rhubarb.  The recipe makes 16 muffins, so there’s lots to share with family or friends or to freeze for a quick grab and go snack or lunch. Fresh Rhubarb Muffins (Serves 16, Serving Size 1 Muffin) Ingredients: Muffin Topping: Optional 2 Tbsp            all-purpose flour       30 mL 3 Tbsp            brown sugar              45 mL 1 Tbsp            oatmeal                      15 mL ½ tsp            cinnamon                   2 mL 1 Tbsp           orange zest                  15 mL 1 Tbsp            butter                           15 mL   Muffins: 1 cup              all-purpose flour            250 mL 1 cup              whole-wheat flour         250 mL ¾ cups          granulated sugar           175 mL 2 tsp               baking powder                10 mL ¾ tsp              baking soda                      3 mL ¼ tsp              salt                                     1 mL 1                      large egg                            1 1 ¼ cups        raspberry yogurt           310 mL 3 Tbsp            canola oil                          45 mL 1 tsp               vanilla                                5 mL 1 tsp               orange zest                         5 mL 1 cup              fresh rhubarb, diced       250 mL   Directions: Muffin topping: In a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, oatmeal, cinnamon, lemon zest together.  Add butter or margarine and blend with a fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside. Muffins: Preheat oven to 375oF (190oC).  Line 16 muffin cups with paper or silicone liners. In a large bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, canola oil, vanilla and lemon zest. Stir the egg mixture into the flour until combined.  The batter will appear thick, but resist over-mixing. Gently fold the fresh rhubarb into the batter Spoon the muffin batter into prepared muffin cups, filling the paper cup.  Sprinkle the tops with equal amounts of muffin topping. Bake in the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick placed in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.   About this recipe:  Substituting rhubarb for raspberries in these muffins gives them an...

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From the Farm: The Alberta Farmers’ Market Association Cookbook

From the Farm: The Alberta Farmers’ Market Association Cookbook

Last fall the Alberta Farmers Market Association published a beautiful little cookbook to celebrate their 20th Anniversary as an Association.  Like the Pure Prairie Eating Plan, it highlights foods that are produced on the Prairies.  The recipes were developed by chefs across Alberta and include Breakfasts, Starters, Vegetables, Mains, Desserts and Pantry staples like chicken stock. The meats in the book range from beef, pork, lamb and chicken to bison, goat and rabbit.  There’s Pan-Seared Alberta Lake Whitefish with Eggplant Relish, Crispy Kennebec Potato Rosti & Cumin Aioli and Pan-Seared Queen Charlotte Halibut with Spring Peas and Morel Risotto.  I loved the cookbook just for the titles of the recipes :)!  There’s lots of imaginative vegetable recipes too, as well as desserts. I was particular looking for recipes for asparagus and I wasn’t disappointed.  I tried the Poached Egg over Roasted Asparagus with fresh bread (as suggested).  The recipe (see below) calls for 1 egg per serving, which is great for a small appetite, but I recommend 2 eggs per serving for a heartier appetite.  The other recipe with asparagus was a terrine – ‘Asparagus Green Bean and Apple Cider Ham Terrine with Greens and Radish’ developed by Chef Blair Lebsack at Rge Rd Restaurant in Edmonton- it looks lovely.  I hope someone will test it and let us know how it is.  The cookbook is available on-line at http://www.albertamarkets.com/news/afma-cookbook/ Poached Egg over Roasted Asparagus, Egg Farmers of Alberta Serves 4:  Serving Size 1 egg and 5 spears of asparagus Ingredients: 1 bunch (approx 20 spears) asparagus, trimmed 1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil salt and pepper, sparingly 2 tsp (10 mL) white vinegar (to poach the eggs) 4 eggs 1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter 2 cloves garlic 1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh bread crumbs 1/4 cup (62.5 mL) shredded Parmesan cheese fresh bread, optional   Directions: Preheat oven to 425oF. Toss asparagus with canola, salt and pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and tender-crisp. Meanwhile, fill saucepan with about 3 inches of water.  Heat until water simmers gently.  Stir in vinegar.  Break cold egg into small dish or saucer.  Holding dish just above simmering water, gently slip the egg into water.  Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cook in barely simmering water for 3-5 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are cooked to the desired level of doneness.  Remove eggs with slotted spoon.  Drain well on paper towel and keep warm. Melt butter in small non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add breadcrumbs.  Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Divide asparagus evenly between 4 plates and top with poached egg.  Sprinkle with toasted breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Serve with fresh bread. Nutritional Analysis (per serving with 1 egg and 1 piece of bread):   304 kcal, 16 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 4 g fibre, 16 g protein, 414 mg sodium....

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