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Super Foods My Patootie!!!


Any time you connect to media – Any social media, radio, TV, the spam in your junk file – you are inundated with the wonders and cures of a “SUPER FOOD”! The ad (because that is what it is folks), goes on to list the numerous cures of this miracle Super food and cites studies, which are rarely specifically named, on how this food may cure cancer, diabetes or any number of diseases. Read … May …

Blueberries, ginger, turmeric, anti-oxidants, lemons, honey, cinnamon, gogi berries … the list goes on, ad nauseum and changes constantly. There is always a new super food that will cure everything, make you happy, make you look younger, cure a disease, help you lose weight and now the miracle ingredient is available in this powder form for your convenience! WooHoo … not.

THIS IS A super food: you planted it, tended to it, picked it when ripe and ate it fresh, that day. Now THAT is super! And it’s a food! Since most of us do not have the opportunity to have our own, diverse garden (read: veggies, fruit trees, berry bushes, etc.) and even for those that do, it is generally not year round, nor is it as diverse as we would like, we become denizens of our local grocery store and must forage through what is available and we wonder if we are making the right choices.

I am so sick and tired of reading all this bullshit on all media about this cure or that cure or how to lose weight if you buy this product or what you should never do/eat and … rants about Big Pharma … we need to remember that the natural health industry is also a billion dollar industry. People are in it to make money. In the case of “Big Pharma”, once you begin on a course of medication one pill leads to another and pretty soon you are not sure what you are taking and must consult a pharmacist to show you which pill to take when and with what and whether they are all working together for the good of your body. As for the health industry they are offering this cure for that disease, that cure for this disease, pills, cleanses, teas and the list goes on for a vast array of cure alls and weight loss products which without a complete lifestyle change – ie. exercise, diet, outlook on life, don’t deliver and are seldom beneficial for anything except making money for the seller.

Do I believe in healthy diets, mind, body, soul/spirit healing … YES! Do I believe holistic medicine is a great preventative tool? YES! Do I believe following a healthy diet can effect a cure for an already established disease. unfortunately, No. I DO believe following a healthy diet, resting, exercising, having fun/laughing/loving can lessen the symptoms of a disease, help get you back to being healthy faster and perhaps keep you off of or decrease the amount of your medications. For those that have a genetic predisposition to a disease, I believe being proactive by having good living habits will help keep the disease at bay or at least mitigate the severity.

DNA, genetics accounts for a lot of unexpected diseases. These can be mitigated with a healthy body, mind and spirit but not necessarily eradicated. Why bother then? Because your chances of survival are increased. Your time spent being ill is decreased. Better quality of life … if you like to be ambulatory and free of pain …

Fresh, whole foods do provide the nutrients your body requires and is built to use. Our body is an amazing machine which given the chance, regulates itself, detoxifies itself, pH balances itself and so much more. Yep. All it requires is the proper fuel; movement; rest; love and laughter. Your body is a part of a complex system encompassing your emotions and thought processes.

A healthy lifestyle, incorporating the mind, body and soul can keep you healthy and can minimize risk. If you are healthy in ALL three areas you have a better chance of fighting the disease and recognizing that something is wrong with your body, perhaps getting early treatment …

There is no magic pill. There is no surefire, instantaneous, miracle cure.

No one is here to solve YOUR health problems with a magic pill or potion! THAT is entirely up to you, to do the best you can with what you have. Research facts, read studies, stay away from marketing promises, commit to a lifestyle change and begin slowly. Small steps in the beginning lead to bigger strides once you develop your pace. Our health is our responsibility.

What there is the age old, simple advice … sleep, eat real foods, meditate/de-stress/relax, drink lots of pure water, socialize with friends and loved ones – be a part of a social network and get some exercise.

Mix it up. A little of this, a little of that … everything in moderation.

 

 

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Split Pea Soup on a Cold Winter Day – Easy and Filling


First winter back in the frozen north … and they told me it doesn’t snow here, where I chose to live … uh huh … warmest area in Canada …  oh sure … There are icicles on my car!
And so … the fireplace is on and I have 2 smoked pork hocks simmering on the stove. Smells like bacon cooking. I don’t know about you but I LOVE the smell of bacon and really LOVE eating it too! My comfort food – well, one of them. The love for bacon is so intense that I must limit myself to devouring a pound of bacon (yep, in one sitting), to a maximum of 4 times per year. Who can have just 3 slices? Not me!

Back to the pork hocks (bone in) … They are simmering with about a tablespoon of black peppercorns and six small bay leaves in 16 cups of water. If you’re making a pot of something, make a big pot! Whether it’s soup or stew or sauce, it doesn’t take up much more time and it freezes well for a quick dinner or lunch. Mine go into 4 cup, sealable, glass jars and are stacked in the freezer.
My apologies. Another digression … bear with me, please. Back to the soup.

My mom used to make the tastiest pea soup and she gave me the recipe. The miracle is that I managed to find it amongst all the papers in my storage locker! Here it is.

Mom’s recipe:
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
6 – 8 peppercorns
1 lb. washed, split, dry green peas
1 large carrot – chopped
1 medium onion – diced
1 stalk of celery – diced
salt to taste
1 ham bone with some meat on it.
Toss all into a pot and simmer for 8 to 10 hours. Remove ham bone, take off meat and add back to soup. Remove bay leaves.

Really? That’s it? Doesn’t sound like much … definitely wouldn’t be enough to freeze … Hmmm …

And so … after a slight tweak … my recipe for a really big pot of soup:

1.7 Kilos (about 4 lbs of smoke pork hock)
6 smallish bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
16 cups of purified water (Hate the chlorine taste in my soup. Yes, you can taste the difference!)
Simmer (on low heat – #3 on the dial) for 4 hours.
Let cool. Place in refrigerator. I don’t have the time to make this in one day. 🙂
Next day, remove pork hocks, skim off fat, fish for all the peppercorns and bay leaves or if you have another really big pot, use a sieve and pour the liquid/stock through. Separate the meat from the fat and bone. Dice up the tender morsels (must taste to be assured of the flavour). Add to stock.
6 – 8 carrots – depending on how much carrot you enjoy, keeping in mind this will make about 16 bowls of       soup.
3 – 4 stalks of celery (same tip as the carrots)
1 1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic
3 lbs of dried, split peas (washed up)
Chop up the veggies to the size you like. Add all the remaining ingredients into the stock. If the water has evaporated too much, add more (purified).
Do Not add any salt as the smoked pork hocks are salty enough. If you can’t find smoked hocks use a ham bone from the butcher.
Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 1 hour or more, until the peas are mushy.

Make a nice salad. Some gluten free garlic bread. Enjoy!

Cool to slightly warm before placing in jars for the freezer. If you freeze this soup in smaller containers, it makes a delicious, warming, light and filling lunch to take to work!

After the holidays eating light and healthy is a relief for your digestive system and will help you to lose those holiday pounds! Soup and salad is heartwarming, tasty and filling, while being light and easy to digest. Just choose your salad dressing carefully! 🙂

Multi-Cultural Veggie Puffs?


Christmas is coming and so is company, one being a vegetarian … What to make?
Made my list of food must haves and requests. Placed a couple of coolers outside (it’s cold enough for them to sub in for the refrigerator), to hold the extras, such as the turkey and the 25 pound bag of carrots (a deal I couldn’t resist) and have begun cooking.
Here’s the list for your inspiration:

Miso soup (to warm the belly upon arrival – it’s chilly here)
Turkey with stuffing and gravy (my favourite!)
Sweet Potato Pie (with mini marshmallows – a request made in a pleading tone which I couldn’t resist … against my better judgement but oh well, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, once a year, isn’t going to hurt … right?)
Broccoli and Cauliflower salad (easy and delicious – also a request)
Peas and Carrots (a standard)
Roasted Beets (requested with cloves/garlic/vinegar)

Kourambiedes – (Greek, almond shortbread, covered in icing sugar that takes all bloody day to make – but well worth the effort. Even though I can’t partake). Don’t have a choice here … it’s a must!
Melamacarona – (more Greek cookies – not as labour intensive as above but still a lot of work!). Also a must.
Chocolate cake – There’s a Birthday involved as well as the Holiday meal. (Gotta feel sympathy for those born right at Christmas time … )

A lot of food for Christmas dinner, yes and probably enough for leftovers the next day. But … what to have on hand for grazing/snacking? Something simple to make, easy to grab and eat, straight from the refrigerator/cooler (wherever it will fit – I’ll get to that later), and healthy?
Houmous, always good in a pinch, very easy to make – it takes more time to clean up than to make the dip. It’s on the list.
Devilled Eggs? Nope. Too much work – not enough time to enjoy the company and they don’t stay fresh for long.
Hmmm …
Gigantes? Greek style, Delicious giant white beans in a flavourful tomato sauce. Lasts for days in the refrigerator but does need warming … Nope, they’re  off the list.
Pakoras? Okay, I’ve never made them but they’ll go well with the houmous and … they will last and can be frozen beforehand, thawed as needed! Bingo!

And so, this is how this recipe which was supposed to be Pakoras (recipe isn’t quite done yet … I’ll keep you posted today as the making of the “puffs” progresses), began …

Shopping at the grocers’, I spy a 1 kilo bag of baby zucchinis on sale for $1.00! Steal of a deal! But what to do with 1 kilo of zucchini? I can’t eat all of that … In the food processor it goes, mushed zucchini poured into a freezer bag and then popped into the freezer …
Okay, so it’s not going to be Pakoras … but I do like the idea of the Indian flavours instead of plain zucchini puffs … Hmmm …
What do I have on hand? Onions – check, Red Peppers – check, Garlic – check, Indian spices – got them. Off to buy a bag of Red Split Lentils, eggs and cilantro – sounded like a good combo … No?
This morning:
Not knowing exactly what I am doing, I pour the thawed zucchini mash into a pot – it’s very liquidy … so I pour in the lentils and turn the stove on to low … add more lentils, stir … add more lentils, stir (all told, about a cup and 1/3) … Turned off stove and let sit.
Finely chopped the carrots – about a cup, 2 large red peppers, a large head of garlic and the cilantro … the onions have just come out of the freezer where they were placed to cool off a bit before chopping (it prevents teary eyes). Added the carrots and peppers to the zucchini and lentils. Placed the garlic in a pan with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil and a whole lot of turmeric, cumin and coriander. This is what it looks like so far …
Oh God I hope this works …

The photo on the left is the zucchini mash (what else would you call it?), and the one on the right is a mound of spices with garlic waiting to be fried – for 20 seconds and then added to the pot.
So … here’s my next steps …
Quick fry spices/garlic and to mash.
Finely chop onions and toss into the pot.
Finely chop cilantro and figure out how much to add to this mix? mash?
Whip 3? 4? eggs and add in (hope the mash in the pot has cooled enough!)
Melt coconut oil onto a cookie sheet (one with sides), it’s chilly here and the oil hardens … the perils of living up north …
Add coconut flour or quinoa flakes until mixture firms up enough to roll into small burger shapes – a flat “meatless” ball.
Bake in a 350℃ oven … cross fingers and hope for success …

For a list of accompaniments (sauces/salsas and wines), see the excerpt or Facebook.

Will keep you posted on my Facebook Page – simplyyummy123.
https://www.facebook.com/SimplyYummy123-139865369835/
Wish me luck!

Fruit Flies – Invasive Little Pests!!!


Here’s a tip: When buying a ripe pineapple … USE IT immediately! Last nights experience has ingrained that info into my very soul! Lol!
After 3 days of having two pineapples sitting on the kitchen counter, I thought it would be best to place them in the refrigerator before I went to bed. Well … as soon as I touched one of them a mass of fruit flies began flying all around my kitchen! Crap!!! And so … Needless to say, I immediately bagged both pineapples (tightly) and placed them outside. Then I spent approximately 4 hours hunting down all those teensy little flies. Exhausting!
There are ways to kill these pests, here are a few tips from Good Housekeeping:
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a25042/how-to-kill-fruit-flies/

But: These pesky pests breed and breed and breed … everywhere. One could end up with an infestation of thousands of fruit flies!!! YUCK!

Although the Good Housekeeping methods work to trap the flies, it doesn’t necessarily eliminate them all immediately – it takes a few days, sometimes longer.

Here is my method:
Step 1: Remove any fruit/vegetables on the counter examine for “spots” and then place in the refrigerator or outdoor trash.
Step 2: Become the fearless, fruit fly hunter, killing as many as you can see – immediately! Exhausting but effective. Killing them as soon as you spot them will, hopefully, prevent the flies from laying their eggs, hence circumventing a mass infestation! BTW, I use a dish towel which has been rinsed with soapy water and wrung out. Yep. I was swinging a wet dish towel around the kitchen, swatting at counters, walls, cabinets, stove top … etc., until the wee hours of the morning. I believe I have eliminated all of them. 🙂
Step 3: Wipe down all surfaces, including kitchen cabinets using dish soap (they can’t stand the smell of it!). Wipe down again. And again. Each time rinsing the cloth in the sink – takes care of any in the drain.

Ideally, don’t keep any fruit in the fruit bowl longer than one day!

Lesson relearned. 🙂

Good Luck! Hope you never have this problem!

Best Turkey Burgers Ever!


Delicious! Child Friendly

Delicious! Child Friendly

Turkey burgers are so versatile. The flavour, depending on the herbs/spices used, can be akin to a christmas turkey (sage, gravy topping), or a tropical treat (coriander, pineapple/pepper salsa) and everything in between. Burgers can be cooked and frozen for future quick meals, packed for lunches, made as a “meatloaf”, after work-out snack (provides a blast of protein), and of course, made into a delicious burger with your choice of trimmings!

The Basics:

2 lbs (1 kilo) of Ground Turkey (I prefer turkey breast. Either white or dark turkey meat can be used)
4 Fresh Carrots – grated – not too fine.
1 Large Red Pepper – diced (small)
3 – 4 Sticks of Celery – diced (small)
1 Large Onion (yellow, white, red … your preference) – diced (small)
4 – 8 Cloves of Garlic – minced. (Amount depends on size of cloves & how much garlic flavour you enjoy).
3 Large Eggs – beaten
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Mayo (Make your own or add your favourite)
*1 Cup Quinoa Flakes
*1/4 Cup Coconut Flour – if necessary, add a little more when mixing.
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Paprika
Optional:
1 Cup Cooked, Diced Bacon – Not Crispy or it won’t dice properly

Those are the basic ingredients.

*If you cannot find Quinoa Flakes or Coconut Flour, use TOASTED gluten-free bread. Not toasted, the bread becomes soggy and melts into the mixture, not providing any firmness. Coconut Flour absorbs a lot of the moisture before and during cooking. Be careful how much extra you add.

In the past I have experimented with Corn Meal, Mashed Potato, Quinoa (cooked), Rice (cooked, different varieties), Gluten-free Bread (toasted) and various gluten-free flour mixes. None provided the texture and firmness I was looking for, although mashed potatoes and the bread came close! Experiment and let us know what you come up with!

Once, while in a rush, I placed all the veggies in a food processor – the result – soggy burgers that fell apart … never doing that again!

Suggestions for 3 different Flavours: BBQ, Roast Turkey, Tropical

BBQ:

Add:
1/2 to 1 Tsp. of Cumin
1 Tsp. to 2 Tsp. Chili Flakes or dried Chilies (Poblano, Ancho, Chipotle) – depending on the heat of the chilies used and how hot you like it.
Although I love the heat of chilies, too much can reduce the flavour components of the whole meal, i.e. … your mouth is on fire and you can’t really taste anything!
1 Tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Gluten Free Tamari/Soya Sauce/Bragg’s Liquid
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. of your favourite Gluten Free Mustard

If you do not have the honey, tamari, tomato paste or mustard, add 2 – 3 Tbsp. of your favourite BBQ sauce.

Sage Burgers:

Add:
2 Tbsp. Dried Sage
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – minced
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Cumin

For added colour and flavour, toss in a handful of dried cranberries!

Tropical Patties:

Add:
2 Tsp. Coriander
1/4 Tsp. Curry
1/2 Tsp. Dried Hot Pepper
1 Tbsp. Dried Coconut
2 Tbsp. (or more … up to you) Grated Sweet Potato
1/4 Cup Finely Diced Pineapple

Method:

Place Turkey in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle herbs/spices on top. Add beaten eggs. Add the binder (quinoa/coconut flour, etc.). Lastly, add the diced/minced veggies. Mix well. Form into patties. Place on greased (coconut oil) cookie sheet. They can be placed quite close together as they do shrink a little. Cook in a 350℉ oven on the middle rack. Depending on the thickness of the patties, cook for about 30 minutes. The Turkey burgers do not gain much colour when cooked – a little golden and that’s all.

Yield: 10 Large Patties

Two of us finished these in 24 hours! They are delicious and so easy to snack on – directly from the refrigerator – just one more bite … and soon another patty was devoured. Doubling the recipe provides extras for freezing or lunches. The patties keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days (If they last that long!) For freezing, layer each patty with wax paper and freeze in a sealed bag. Only freeze as many together that you will need for a meal.
Pressed for time? Make this into a meatloaf – grease a meatloaf pan and firmly pat the mixture in.

Gravy, Mango/Pineapple Salsa, Cranberry Sauce, Fig Compote … any of these may be served with these burgers.
Sweet Potatoes/Yams are a favourite side dish. Wash well, slice into 1/2 inch/1.5 cm, lay on a cookie sheet, pour extra virgin olive oil, orange/pineapple juice, GF tamari over top – just enough of each to “wet” the slices. Sprinkle paprika over each slice. A dash of cinnamon on each slice works well for the children. If you love garlic, as I do, add some peeled cloves in the pan – yum!

ENJOY!

México!


It took a while … planning, discussions, paperwork, introspection, tears, laughter and tons of hard work … Here I am, living in México … Thank You to my daughters for their Love and understanding, wherever we are in the world we are together.  Please, follow your dreams … make it happen for you.  Choose to be happy wherever you are and whatever you are doing!  Thank You to my dear friends for helping hands, ears that listen, kind and thoughtful words and homes to visit.  Bless you all for helping make this part of my dream come true!

And now … back to FOOD!!!

Wherever you are in the world you will find fish, chicken and pork … and many different veggies and fruits … most we know, like onions, garlic, cabbage, parsley/cilantro, carrots, potatoes, lemons/limes, bananas, etc.  Herbs, spices, veggies and fruits vary (some new, some not to be found, and finding the ones you know!).  Here in Mexico there is an abundance of some foods and a scarcity of others.  Some foods we Canadians/Americans have become accustomed to are difficult to find but with the help of others can be found and other foods … well … just not available yet.  Vine leaves, phyllo pastry, real greek feta cheese, dill weed, Miracle Whip … and a few others are either not available here or available at one store or another only some of the time.  We await the arrival of friends from home with eagerness, not only for their company but for the goodies they bring!  In the meantime we explore small and large food outlets – there is a Costco, a Wal-Mart (they are everywhere!), a Sam’s Club and a division of Wal-Mart, named Superama.  There are also many smaller, specialty grocery stores opening now, in response to the demand of the thousands of ex-pats living and eating here!  There are also a large number of Mercados (markets), with an abundance of fresh foods.  And the food is fresh!  Most foods offered at the market are grown in Mexico, picked when ripe and transported to the nearest market.  Food at the market is seasonal and very fresh!

So much to discover!

Paradise?


What do we call “Paradise”? Is there such a place to live here on earth … ?

Is it living by a beach? In the mountains? A log cabin by a lake? A beautiful apartment in a big city? A mansion? A farm? A horse ranch? A small town where everyone knows each other? An Ashram? Travelling the world? Life on a boat? An island? It is up to each of us to decide … There are many options. Every choice has benefits and trials. Which has more benefits and less trials (or, should I say, ones you are willing to put up with for the benefits)? We search for our own paradise, learning along the way and as we grow and learn, our perceptions change. What we consider gifts and challenges changes, depending on where we are in our lives and the choices and sacrifices we are willing to make.

Living in Mexico this winter and last has been quite the learning experience for me! Some delightful experiences, some challenging, some an eyeopener! All combined the experience has been a wonder filled one. So many lovely people – Mexican and ex-pats (many from Canada and the U.S.). All helping each other to navigate the ins and outs of visiting/living in a foreign country. Sourcing out food, learning a new language (more than una cerveza por favour … lol!) discovering new ways of cooking along the way. New sights, new sounds, new smells, new tastes! Scenery is lovely and … I drive around freely and easily! Weather – well, what can I say … no snow … lots of sun, flip flops most days … although when the nortes blow in, it’s cold, windy and wet!

The challenges … well … sometimes needed items are very hard to find, require a lot of driving around or simply cannot be found. That goes for everything from food to hardware to kitchen gadgets (looking for a decent can opener right now! … Found one!), to linens and everything in between. One learns quickly here … if you see something you like/want/need or may need in the near future … BUY IT NOW! Things go quickly and restocking takes a while or not at all. Miracle Whip disappears as fast as the stars at dawn … twinkle twinkle and it’s gone!

The challenges also include getting used to living in a country that is not as rich, nor as advanced as ours. Although in the province of Yucatan it is generally safe, awareness is key. Locking doors, protecting phones, computers, etc., just as most places in the world … play safe and stay safe. The laws are sometimes enforced, sometimes not and they are a little different. Although now there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, no smoking in an indoor area, no talking on the mobile phone whilst driving, etc. Car accidents are handled a bit differently (all parties involved can be jailed until they agree on who is at fault – Lawyers come in very handy!), thankfully I have not learned this first hand. Associating with a person of interest to the police can land you in jail. Visa requirements … best to always look up the laws and requirements of where you are going BEFORE you get there.

Internet is EXTREMELY slow, even in Merida it is not as fast as large metropolitan areas in Canada or the U.S. People take precedence over animals, resulting in many street dogs and a few cats that are sick, dying or dead. Although there are ex-pats and Mexican vets now that are neutering and spaying animals for free. If anyone can catch a street dog/puppy, they will de-worm, de-flea, cure the mange and spay/neuter the animal for free. We all do what we can to support these efforts. Many of the people here have adopted 1, 2, 3 or even 4 dogs! Sewer system at the beach and many places in Merida is a septic tank which comes with its’ own challenges. Electricity goes on and off at random, as does the mobile and internet service … Then there are the bugs … CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN … no leaving the dishes in the sink or dropping food on the floor! Do NOT walk in the bush – snakes, bugs, animals all live in any empty, grassy space and they all come out at night.

Although some days can be very trying, the beauty, the people and all the knowledge I’ve accumulated have been more than worth the trials! I’ve learned about Mamay fruit, Achiote paste, coconuts, fish/seafood (so many different kinds!), jicama, cilantro, nuts, oils, I have cooked Mexican foods – Yucatectan foods (yes, I will share the recipes with you).  The ruins, the cenotes, the markets … museums, art, music … beautiful, intriguing, enlightening … Watching Pelicans float by is so relaxing … meditative!

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Picking coconuts for fresh coconut water

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Pescado Frito – Muy Bueno!

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Lobster Taquitos at La Recova

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Yummy dips … mild to hot!

 

 

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Duck Salad at La Recova

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Fruits and veggies at the Bodega

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More fruits and veggies at the Bodega

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Green coconut jelly … this coconut yields delicious coconut water … split the coconut after removing the water and scoop out the jelly!

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chicken on the grill … charcoal made from trees … great flavour!

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Chicken with tamarind and coconut jelly

                                                                                                                 

 

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