Thursday, April 28, 2011

Backyard Chickens? Try Wild...Kauai

On the prowl...
Just back from the gorgeous island of Kauai....

One of the first things I noted when reading the guide book on Kauai was that chickens were wild all over the island. I thought to myself, "I wonder if I will get to see any of the wild chickens?". Hah! Sure I saw them, they are EVERYWHERE! Roosters prowling the shops for some new duds, sketchy hens caging out the parking lot for cars to boost and surfer chicks scanning the horizon for waves. 

All over the island were signs pleading with you not to feed the feral chickens (and cats too, although I didn't see that many kittys). My husband chatted briefly about the chickens to a local; most memorable quote? "Yah...we don't eat 'em. Too gamey. Not good for much other than roadkill."

Why did the chicken cross the road? Cuz he thought the dude in the truck would stop for him.

Lots of posts on the local food to come when the baby jet lag wears off and I get some sleep!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

UnDiet...Week 17

Aloha UnDieters!

Blame "island time" for the late post...I am currently feasting on mangosteen, macadamia nuts and other such local delights on the beautiful island of Kauai. I have got a whole handful of posts on the local food scene here that I will post next week, once I am able to upload my photos.

For this week, I want to attack a habit that undermines healthy eating for many of us (including myself), night time noshing. Most of us have heard the myth that eating anything after six makes us fat. That statement actually falls into the "well, sort of..." category. Technically (and scientifically speaking) you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want it and not gain weight and vice versa. However, what is true about eating at night is the following:

When you eat after dinner, it is unlikely that you NEED to eat. Extra, unneccessary food means extra, unneccessary pounds.

When you eat after dinner, it is likely that you will eat less healthful food...providing little nutrition and empty calories.

When you eat after dinner, it is likely in front of the television. When we eat and watch, we are likely to overeat...and pile on the pounds.

So this week, examine your after dinner habits and consider going cold turkey. If you are eating a good dinner, you don't really need to snack. You may find it helpful to keep some "food journal notes" in the evening about what and when you eat if you end up eating and what is going through your mind and what you are doing in the evening for activity.

If you find yourself going mental and craving a snack, consider distraction. If your favourite television show is your trigger to eat, consider turning the TV off (gasp!) and going for a walk or doing some other activity. If your absolute favourite show is is the playoffs after all...try an alternative snack to keep your mouth busy. An evening cocktail can be an invitation to snack (and pack on the pounds themselves) so if you love a night cap, watch the munching.

Here are 5 night time options to keep you munching, without packing it on:

1. Try just drinking something, like water! Won't cut it? Try sparkling water or tea or coffee (easy on the sugar and milk). Go decaf if the caffeine interferes with your rest.
2. Snack on raw plain veggies, like bell pepper, broccoli and carrot. You almost can't eat too many! Loads of nutrition for very few calories.
3. Try plain, airpopped popcorn. It is an unsung, low calorie whole grain snack. Need a microwave alternative? Try an organic, low cal variety.
4. Chew gum, get flavour without the calorie punch. Go for a naturally sweetened variety like xylitol gum and avoid artificial sweeteners.
5. Warm skim milk is a great option, as milk's protein keeps you feeling full.

If you find that nighttime noshing is not just habit or craving but true hunger, have a healthy option as mentioned above and then examine where you are skimping during the day. Some people eat very little during the day and then gorge all night. There are plenty of ways this can happen and knowing your trigger is key to overcoming the pattern...

Scenario A: You are so busy from sun rise to sun isn't until the end of the day that you start thinking about eating. If that is you, set yourself a timer for every 4 hours during the day to ensure that you eat at least a little something. Plan tons of healthy snacks for  your desk drawer, gym bag, pantry so you always have something healthy and on the go.

Scenario B: You aren't hungry until lunch, making it pretty tough to make it up at lunch and dinner....if that is you, it is likely that because of your night time feasting, you really aren't hungry in the morning. Once you cut out the night time eating, your hunger should return.

Scenario C: You watch what you eat pretty closely and restrict yourself during the day (ladies, this is usually you!) and then get so hungry and lose all willpower at night, eating way too much in the way of treats. If this is you, it is time to eat more during the day. We typically have far more willpower during the day, so harness that energy to eat bigger portions of super healthy food so that you will be satisfied enough to resist the junk food party post dinner.

If you are still having trouble busting the habit after this week, consider keeping a detailed diet journal for a week or two. In addition to what and when you eat, writing down your mood and activities may help. If viewing your journal doesn't make your pattern leap off the page, try sharing it with a registered dietitian, who can help you get to the bottom of it. You can find a dietitian in your area on the Dietitians of Canada website.

Good luck this week...and if all else fails, chew celery!

Friday, April 15, 2011

UnDiet...Week 16

Good Morning UnDieters!

By the time you read this, I will be en route to Kauai and I hope to post some juicy tidbits about the local food scene there. Watch this space!

For this week, I want to introduce you (in case you haven't previously met) to veggie ground round. Many families use ground beef in their meals because it is cost effective, easy to use and versatile. It is also high in artery clogging saturated fat and calories. Beef loses more points from a sustainability perspective: raising cattle uses an enormous amount of resources in terms of grain for feed, water and fossil fuel inputs, not to mention the damaging methane release from high intensity feed lots. 

So for this week, I would like you to experiment with veggie ground round in place of your ground beef in at least one of your meals. Veggie ground round is comparable in price and is made from soy and wheat proteins. It is low in saturated fat and high in protein, with added vitamins to make it nutritionally comparable to beef. It is also a crowd pleaser; while picky eaters may not enjoy tofu or other vegetarian proteins, veggie ground tends to win over even the biggest skeptics. This could be a great way to introduce Meatless Mondays into your family's routine!

Veggie ground round is a great transition food for those who are interested in eating more plant based meals because it is an easy swap you can make without a major overhaul of the type of meals you cook. For those of you who have already adopted a more plant based approach or who are avoiding soy or wheat, you may choose to use a less processed veggie protein such as tofu or beans this week. Want to learn more about veggie ground round ingredients and nutrition? Click here

Here are 5 simple family dinners that lend themselves well to a veggie ground swap, in case you need some ideas:

1. Spaghetti with "meat" sauce (whole food option: lentils)
2. Veggie Chili "con Carne" (whole food option: black beans)
3. Taco Salad (whole food option: pinto beans)
4. Cabbage Rolls (whole food option: seitan)
5. "Hamburger" Soup (whole food option: lentils)


PS...just in case your faith is wavering, no...Yves Veggie Cuisine did not ask me to post this. I just like veggie ground :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

UnDiet...Week 15

Hello UnDieters!

A little late in this week's posting...but I am not sending you to the grocery store, so not to worry! This week, I would like to get you thinking about what you put on your plate. Literally. 

We know that portion sizes (and consequently, our stomachs) have gotten much larger over the past 30 years. As our portions have swelled, our view of what a reasonable serving size is has gotten pretty distorted. So I would like this week to be an exercise is conscious eating. 

Because overeating starchy foods tends to be an Achilles Heel for many of us, whenever you are at home this week, I would like you to serve yourself any starchy carb (pasta, rice, quinoa, breakfast cereal etc.) out of a 1/2 cup measuring spoon. I am not asking you to cut down or limit your portions but simply to become aware of how many 1/2 cup portions of starches you typically serve yourself in a day. Keep a simple tally of each half cup serving you eat for at least 3 days this week. Not eating a measurable starch? A slice of bread, a half a pita, a small tortilla, or 100 calories of crackers or granola bar are all a portion for the purposes of the exercise. For all of you well acquainted with the food guide, these servings are a bit different but I wanted to simplify the exercise for you. If you want to measure the "correct" servings, take a peek at the guide here.

Our national food guide recommends 6 to 8 servings of starches every day, which is a good guideline for the average person. It sounds like a lot but if you have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and some brown rice for have probably reached 6 servings. If after completing this exercise, you feel like you may be eating too many starches, consider taking your portions down by a half cup at one of your meals each day. If this week has reaffirmed that you are on the right track, kudos to you!

Have a great week,

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Lovely Photo by Melissa Quantz!

To give you a little inspiration for your kale fest this week, enjoy this recipe by my friend Melissa, The Bounty Hunter....Be sure to check out her blog for more great recipes and beautiful photos!

Recipe: Wholegrain Spaghetti with Kale and Turkey Sausage
Chicken or Italian pork sausage work well too, be sure to get the best quality you can.  I like to use the kale stems as well as the leaves, but feel free to remove them and save for soup. 
Note from Desiree...our sausages at Choices Markets are all made in house and feature no added preservatives, MSG or other nasties...give them a try!
Serves 6
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb turkey sausage, casings removed 
1 large bunch kale, washed and cut into bit sized pieces (any variety)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Couple pinches dried chili flakes
¾ lb whole grain spaghetti or your preferred shape
2/3 cup chicken stock
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Blanch the kale in the hot water for 2-3 minutes, until bright green and tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain.  Use this water to cook your pasta.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausages and cook, breaking them up into small pieces with a spatula, until browned, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, when the reserved cooking water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, see package for cooking time.  Somewhere between 8-12 minutes for wholegrain pasta.  Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water.
While the pasta cooks, add the kale to the sausage in the skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the broth, stirring and scrapping the brown bits from the pan. 
Add the cooked pasta and parmesan cheese and toss until combined.  If a bit dry, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid from the pasta.
Serve with a fresh grinding of pepper and another sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Friday, April 1, 2011

UnDiet...Week 14

Lovely photo courtesy of my friend Melissa, The Bounty Hunter

Hello UnDieters!

It is time to introduce you to one of my favourite things...kale! Don't turn your nose up at me. Kale is good for you. 

Uh oh, did I just sound like my mother?

But kale IS good for you. And it is incredibly tasty too. Greens are really the mother of all vegetables. If I had to exist on only one vegetable (which isn't really a good idea but if I was forced to pick just one) I would choose kale. Incredibly high in vitamins A, K and C, kale also boasts folate, omega 3 fatty acids and iron. Not too shabby for a leaf normally relegated to lining the deli case. A true superfood, kale is chock full of antioxidants to help combative oxidative damage and calm inflammation. From flavonoids to lutein to I3C, antioxidants in kale help to support detoxification pathways in the body and combat chronic disease.

The key to kale is finding a way to cook it that you love. Some like to juice it (not for the novice juicer!) or shred it into salads; others to bake it into chips, saute it or toss it into soups. 

This week, get to know kale and eat it at least once. I hope you will like it so much that kale makes it into your weekly grocery list. There are a variety of different kales out there and the farmer's market is the perfect place to select your favourite. If the kale on your grocery store shelves looks moth eaten and tough, move on. You won't like it and you will blame the kale, not poor quality product. 

To help get you inspired, I will be featuring a post from my first guest blogger (drum roll please!!), Melissa Quantz, at . Melissa has created a delicious pasta dish for you which I will post this Sunday. 

Eat your greens,