Wednesday, June 27, 2007

100 Mile Diet

Yesterday I was watching the Gill Deacon Show, a good Canadian daytime talk show on the CBC. Yesterday's show was about the 100 mile diet. That's where you live off of food only available to you within a 100 mile radius. It's meant to curb greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption by not eating food that has traveled half way around the world to get to your table. Sounds great right? And you all know I am a huge supporter of buying locally. But there is a little fly in this ointment when you try to exclusively buy only food stuff that can be found in a 100 mile radius.

First of all there is a nutritional impact. One of the issues that has been uncovered over the years in the fight against heart disease has been regional diets. Diets in the Mediterranean area are known to have significantly lower rates of heart disease and these diets are full of olive oil, fresh fruits and vegetables. Diets in northern climates like Canada and the UK have high rates of heart disease. So finally we are importing and including elements of the Mediterranean diet into our everyday lives and now we need to stop that?! That isn't logical. And for another example lets look at citrus fruits. Without vitamin c you'll get scurvy. So should we stop eating oranges, lemons and limes and stop drinking OJ that all comes out of Florida? And what about the great high blood pressure fighting potassium in a banana? Last time I checked there wasn't a single banana grown in Canada. Imported items are important to maintaining a balanced diet. And this leads me to my second point.

The food industry is an industry that relies on exporting and importing. We have a food industry here in Canada but also there are many parts of the world that rely on exporting food stuff for their economic stability. It's a give and take situation. If Chili no longer exported grapes to Canada the cost to their economy would be $144 million according to the information on the Gill Deacon Show. That means money out of people's pockets and not being able to put food on their families' tables. And there are side industries like shipping that also rely on the exporting and importing of food stuff to keep them in business. Economic instability creates serious political issues and affects the world economy. It's the big picture here.

It can be frustrating to walk into your grocery store during the height of broccoli season in the summer here in New Brunswick and only see broccoli from Ontario. Grocery store chains have contracts with major suppliers, it's how they keep you supplied during the off season but it means they have to keep buying from these sources year round. Farmers markets are popping up all over the place and they are the best places to hit during the growing season. Nova Scotia has a website for the ones around their province New Brunswick links theirs through the arts and entertainment section of their tourism site which strikes me as funny...

Also be aware of where the food stuff you are buying is coming from. According to the Gill Deacon show Canada imports $278 Million of fish and seafood. As a maritimer, I'm not buying any seafood that hasn't come out of local waters. It just doesn't make sense to me. It's not just about supporting local industry, it's also about quality of taste!

Stock up when things are in season but don't forgot great leafy greens in the off season, it's just too important to your health. I like frozen broccoli in the off season myself. And corn on the cob? Unless you know it was picked that morning, don't even bother! The sugars in the corn start converting to starch the minute it comes off the stalk. I buy a large quantity when I can get it fresh and bbq it all, taking the extra off the cob and freezing it. I end up with wonderful roasted corn all year long this way!

Bottom line is that it is a balance. I love supporting local farmers. I love buying in season. But I also love eating healthy and that means buying imported food stuff. Heart disease runs in my family. Olive Oil, fruits and leafy greens are crucial to my long term health. And to yours!

And that's my 2 cents.

(My camera should be back today or tomorrow, so stay tuned for recipes and pics.... I have a plan for leftover rice, chicken and broccoli - quick and easy!)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Even I have a few naughty secrets...

I've been reading so many blogs and listening to so many podcasts today that I just had to sit down and blog myself. Unfortunately my camera is still in the canon hospital so no pics. And I'd love to share some fantastic recipe with you but aside from having one of my Indian burgers for lunch (it was fantastic), I'm eating what I would call crap for dinner.

Okay, just so you know, I never claimed to be perfect. I have this one weakness that has been with me for years. I love Liptons Pasta and Sauce Creamy Bacon Carbonara. It tastes nothing like real carbonara but I love it anyway. And as the rain clouds rolled in this evening, the idea of grilling my salmon fillet in the rain seemed less and less appealing. Then I remembered I had picked up some of my beloved Creamy Bacon Carbonara a little while ago to have when Tim was out of town. I would never make this when he is around - waaaay too high in sodium for him. But since he left for Sweden yesterday I thought I'd indulge myself.

And as though it's not bad enough, I pile it high with freshly shredded parmesan cheese. I did add 2 cups of fresh spinach to it just to make me feel better. I'm enjoying it right at this minute. Here's to being naughty every once in a while! ; )

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More Burgers (Tex Mex, Caesar, Greek and Indian)

Yesterday I did my annual burger making. This is where I take 4 lbs of ground meat (usually half extra lean beef or pork and half ground chicken or turkey) and make our burgers for the summer. I've been doing this for as long as I can remember. Then we can just throw them on whenever we want. If we are having a crowd around then I usually do up a separate batch so we can keep these for ourselves for convenience.

This year I did Tex Mex, Indian (huge hit last year), Greek (always popular) and I thought I'd try something new with a Caesar burger. I used 2 lbs of extra lean beef mixed with 2 lbs of ground turkey. It works out to 4 burgers of each type, each 1/4 lb.

For each mixture I started with 1/2 cup of freshly made bread crumbs. I used some ends of whole wheat bread I had frozen and even one old whole wheat bagel. I put them in the food processor. I swear this is the secret to moist burgers. Last year I made buffalo burgers which are quite lean and can easily be dry but mine were really moist.

Okay, back to the burgers. I then added one egg for each mixture. And that is where the similarities end.

Tex Mex
1 tablespoon Ms. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning but you could use chili powder or chipotle powder
1/2 cup grated cheddar (monteray jack would be nice here too)
1/2 cup salsa
(you could also add either Tabasco sauce, one canned chipotle diced or cut up a jalapeno if you want extra spice)

Mix and freeze

2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried mint
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
juice of half a lemon (about 2 tbsp)

2 tablespoons diced red onion
1/2 cup yogurt (I used fat free)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (or about 2 tsp bottled)
1/2 inch of ginger, minced (or about 2 tsp bottled)
2 tablespoons of curry powder (I used Madras Curry powder from the Asian market)

30 dashes of the Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan
juice from half of a lemon (1 tbsp is enough)
2 tsp of minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 tsp of anchovy paste

I haven't tried these Caesar burgers yet but I will have one tomorrow night. If they didn't turn out well, I'll edit this post! (I came back to edit this... the lemon zest in the Caesar burgers was too much so just use 1 tbsp of juice)

Veggie Burgers (but you'll never miss the meat!)

Still no pics. Sorry. Weight update - I ate out last night and had drinks... no way am I getting on a scale today. The water retention from the salty foods will give me an inaccurate read!

Thursday night we had a fantastic veggie burger. And it wasn't one of those soy things which are too high in sodium for Tim. It was a portabello burger. Might I remind you that I don't really like mushrooms but nothing is as yummy as a grilled portie!

We grilled portabello mushrooms, a ring of red onions for each burger and some sliced zucchini. We grilled the porties with the cup side down first then turned them over and added some blue cheese and let it all melt while on the bbq. Don't like blue cheese, try brie, Camembert, cambazola or Gorgonzola. The cheese makes this burger. Then all we did was serve the burger on whole wheat buns, layering the portie with cheese side up, then the red onion, then the zucchini. That's it, nothing else was needed! The way blue cheese melts, it gave moisture to the whole burger. And these were frozen, half stale buns!

Oh, and I keep saying "we" cause Tim grilled and I offered polite suggestions.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chicken Tex Mex Salad

Weight update - lost another pound.

A little sad news - my beloved camera fell ill on the weekend. Currently it is on it's way to canon emergency care for repair work. I'm eagerly awaiting it's return. So no pics until then.

But you don't need a picture to put this delicious and simple salad on the table quickly!

You will need the following: (the amounts are done per person)

1 boneless chicken breast per person
1/2 a pepper per person (I mixed up the colours, using yellow, red and green)
1/4 a medium red onion per person
6- 8 cherry or grape tomatoes per person
2 cups of lettuce greens per person
1 ounce of cheese per person (I used one ounce of cheddar and one ounce of Jarlsberg for 2 servings and mixed them together)
1 tbsp of light ranch dressing per person
Lime juice.

Ground cumin, Ms. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning, Chili powder, or use a combine of any tex mex seasonings you have. Cumin and Chili powder are a must! But you can add ground coriander, paprika, onion and garlic powder or even some chipotle powder in place of the Ms. Dash.

Sprinkle your chicken, peppers and red onion with the ground spices and let sit for a couple of hours or all day. You can do this the night before. Sprinkle them all with lime juice right before grilling, letting them sit for about 20 minutes.

Grill the chicken, peppers and onion on high heat until cooked.
Assemble the lettuce and tomatoes on each plate. Pour on the dressing.
Slice up the chicken, peppers and onions. Layer them on top of the lettuce, tomato and dressing.
Sprinkle with the cheese.

That's it! Easy and totally delicious. Enjoy!