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Fresh Canteen Grocery Service

16 Sep

You worked all day. Getting home in rush hour is a hassle and you just didn’t have the time or desire to hit the grocery store. You’re home now and you’re starving. You want to have something healthy for dinner but you don’t have all the ingredients you need so you throw your hands up in the air and pick up the phone and order delivery.

Let’s rewrite this scenario:  you worked all day. Getting home in rush hour is a hassle and you just didn’t have the time or desire to hit the grocery store. You’re home now and you’re starving. You want to have something healthy for dinner…so on your way in the door you pick up the box of ingredients you ordered from Fresh Canteen and prepare yourself a healthy, flavourful, properly portioned meal.

This second scenario sounds more appealing, non?

From six possible entree options, I tried out the Jamaican chicken dinner. The box was delivered Tuesday afternoon and I received an email notification when it arrived. (Note: in speaking with owner Matt O’Leary , he told me that the boxes are packaged with materials and ice packs that allow the ingredients to remain unrefrigerated for up to 24 hours. Additionally, all the materials are recyclable. ) When I got home, I opened up the box to find all the ingredients I would need: two chicken breasts, pineapple salsa vegetables and herbs, 1/2 cup of quinoa and individually packaged spices. Included in the box was a step-by-step recipe card with clear instructions and pictures.

fc box

Food is snug as a bug in its recyclable packaging.

fc menu

Helpful recipe card.

The whole meal, from the time I opened the box to the time I sat down to eat, took 40 minutes. It didn’t require me to use any special kitchen tools and the only things I needed from my own pantry were salt, pepper and vegetable oil.  I wondered if there would really be enough food for two of us but we were quite full – in fact, there actually might have been too much salsa. That being said, having extra red pepper and pineapple salsa on hand is not a bad thing: it makes for a good snack later!

fc chicken

fc veg

fc final

Fresh Canteen is serving most of the GTA thus far, delivering a package of three meals once per week. “We know people are going to order out, too,” Matt tells me, “but at least they can have enough food in the fridge for a few days so they can eat healthy meals at home.” FC is a great service for those who love to cook but don’t always have the time to get to the grocery store. Each week the menu options change and there are fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian dishes from which you can choose. Check them out, folks. It’s a great service run by friendly, knowledgeable people who care about your food as much as you do.

Heart-Healthy Condiments BBQ & Giveaway!

20 Jun

I had the chance to spend a sunny afternoon on a downtown rooftop with some fellow foodies trying out David Marcus’ line of heart-healthy, low sodium, preservative-free rubs and sauces. (Check out his site!) Our host had an array of products perfect for BBQ season, from spicy marinades to savoury rubs.  David created his product line as a result of two health emergencies: both his father and father-in-law required heart surgery within months of each other. Consequently, heart health became an important consideration in David’s life and he began to experiment in the kitchen. What he came up with was a healthy alternative to often salt-heavy sauces and rubs. And, for a couple of lucky readers, I have two giveaway packages of three products and BBQ utensils! Read on, mes amis…

sauces

Our first dish of the day was guacamole using the spicy rub, proving that David’s line doesn’t have to be utilized only on meat. The guacamole had a nice little kick to it!

guac
Next up: prosciutto-wrapped asparagus using the special steak rub, kind of reminiscent of Montreal steak seasoning. It has a nice, lemony hit and paired well with the earthy asparagus and  salty prosciutto.

The asparagus before it hit the grill, covered in steak rub.

The asparagus before it hit the grill, covered in steak rub.

Along the vegetarian line, David has created a Caesar salad dressing that is gluten- and dairy-free (no anchovies, no eggs, no milk). He also has an anchovy-free version for those looking for a vegan option. It does have lots of garlic, though, and features his own brand of first-pressed extra virgin olive oil (also available for sale).

caesar
Then it was all-meat-all-the-time…time. We were treated to French-cut lamb chops with David’s steak rub; baby back ribs with the steak rub and Fierce Marinade; New York steak with steak rub; chicken breast with the herbacious chicken rub; and spicy peri-peri-marinated shrimp. I really enjoyed the heat of the peri-peri sauce and thought the steak rub complimented the lamb and steak beautifully.

lamb bbq

Lamb chop!

steak bbq

New York steak

 David is definitely on to something with these healthier products. Most of us are looking to incorporate healthier food where we can and this could be a great way to cut back on some salt in your diet. You can find David’s Condiments at Longo’s, Pusateri’s, Sanagan’s, McEwan’s and other fabulous food establishments!

Here’s how you can enter to win 1 of 2 sets of David’s products and accompanying BBQ utensils:
1. Follow me on Twitter at @foodNURD. RT this post with the following message, “I want to win a #davidscondimentsbbq prize pack!”
OR
2. Share this post on Facebook, tagging “@foodNURD”, and write “I want to win a David’s Condiment prize pack!”

giveaway

Winners will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 26th!

Quinoa & Roasted Carrot Salad

15 Mar

In order to balance out all of the baked goods that have somehow made their way into our house (what else was I supposed to do with the Nutella? Or with the knowledge that there’s a killer bakery 15 minutes from my house by foot), I have been looking for some healthy recipes to balance out the gluttony. I came across this quinoa and carrot salad my latest issue of Bon Appétit and decided it looked perfect! Not only could I make most of it ahead of time, I could make a large batch for leftovers.

I made a few changes to suit my own taste and am really happy with how it turned out. The carrots were sweet, the feta was salty and the pepper rings added some heat. (You can find the original recipe here.) It’s an adaptable recipe, so feel free to make your own changes and let me know how you liked it!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 c quinoa, rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tb apple cider
2 tb honey
2 ts finely grated lemon zest
1 tb fresh lemon juice
2 tb apple cider vinegar
5-10 pickled hot pepper rings, chopped

10 oz feta, crumbled
1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves torn

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 450F.
2. Boil 4 cups of salted water and add the quinoa. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Add in the onion and cook an additional minute. Drain and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, oil a foil-lined baking sheet for the carrots. In a medium bowl, whisk the apple cider and honey. Add in the carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and place on the sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and cool.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add the 1/4 c olive oil and whisk til smooth to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the carrots and hot peppers to the quinoa. Dress with most of the vinaigrette and stir to coat.
6. Place lettuce on a plate, scoop the salad on top and finish with the rest of the vinaigrette. Crumble feta on top.

quinoa and carrot salad

Quinoa Tabouleh

2 Aug

I came across this recipe while doing some research for a friend and sent it on to a few others that I thought would enjoy it. One of those fabulous ladies made it for a group of us and it was a huge hit. It’s not your typical tabouleh; but, to me, flavor is more important than tradition and accuracy in this case. It has feta – how can you argue with a healthy, whole grain dish that incorporates such salty, lovely goodness?

Additionally, this is somewhat of a quinoa redemption dish for me. My first try at making quinoa yielded less than wonderful results. I suspect that I didn’t cook the quinoa enough my first go ‘round and instead of a light, fluffy side dish that pops a little when you bite into it, I took a bite and…well, it was crunchy. Like I said, less than ideal. With this dish, though, it came out exactly as it should have. Just remember: rinse the quinoa first and use a 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain. Once you’ve added the quinoa to the boiling liquid, let the entire thing come back up to a boil before you put the lid on and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes (or until the liquid has evaporated).

Serves 4 (with leftovers)

Ingredients

1 c quinoa
2 c water or vegetable broth
½ ts salt
½ red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, cut to bite-sized pieces
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
8 oz feta, crumbled
juice 1 lemon
black pepper to taste

Directions
1. Rinse the quinoa and cook according to the instructions on the package. When finished, transfer the quinoa to a bowl and put in the fridge to cool for 30-45 minutes.
2. Cover the diced onion with a pinch of salt and water. Leave the onion to soak while the rest of the ingredients are prepped.
3. In a bowl, combine the garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley and feta. Drain the onions and add to the mixture.
4. Combine all the ingredients. Add the lemon juice and black pepper to taste.

Optional – you can add a little sesame oil to the salad for a nutty flavor.

Food Is Not The Enemy.

5 Nov

Please go and read this link, then come on back: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/dietfitness/diet/article/885393–wanna-lose-weight-don-t-diet

This is one of the few times I’ve come across a health article that DIDN’T preach eating specific types of food for weight loss. I have long been a proponent of healthy eating, not diets. As far as I’m concerned, diets set you up to fail and some remove most personal responsibility. The moment you stop eating according to a calorie-restrictive diet, you gain weight. Sometimes more weight than you initially lost. I am all for a system, a lifestyle change, that is actually achievable for the average person. How many people do you know that eat macrobiotically? Gwynnie and Madonna. Excellent. Just your average megastars.

There is a plethora of testimonials and evidence that those who diet often gain the weight back when they cease the diet. To me the problem is that it’s strictly a temporary measure, not a lifelong plan. Specifically because one chooses to eat only certain foods for a short- or long-term goal, one is almost bound to fail at keeping the weight off.  I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious but diets almost always fail. They fail because most diets are based on full-scale deprivation: you can’t have red meat and/or carbs and/or sugar. Take your pick.  I’m hardly saying that all anyone should eat is sugar and red meat: what I’m saying is that eating in a healthy way shouldn’t be so exclusive.

What the woman in the article above has done, I think, is fantastic. She chose one “unhealthy” thing – just one – to stop eating. She didn’t deprive herself of the rest of the foods that most health experts would agree are not healthy. A month later, after seeing positive results that were achieved relatively easily, she tried something else. Then she added in exercise. And what did she see? Success. She felt better by implementing a lifestyle change*  on her own terms, at her own speed. She didn’t deprive herself of an entire food group.

Most weight loss clinics and plans make me a little crazy. OK. A lot crazy. I am certainly no angel when it comes to maintaining a perfectly healthy diet: I love cheese, alcohol, bacon and sugar. (If I can get them all in one meal, I am a happy, bloated camper.) However, I also feel groggy and less energetic when I don’t get my fruits and veggies. I am fortunate enough to be able to consume most of the food I love, having only a lack-of-gallbladder to consider when it comes to diet. (So, McD’s ain’t never gon’ happen, but I don’t need to avoid gluten or lactose.) I also am fortunate to have an exercise partner and a supportive husband who offers to bring home more fruit and less chocolate and go for walks after dinner when I feel like I’m at the high end of what my weight-spectrum. But I defy anyone to tell me that if I eat nothing but meat or grapefruit or soup I will have lasting, positive results.

I’m rambling. I know. But this stuff really hits a nerve with me. I mean, even shows like Bulging Brides and Last 10 Pounds don’t advocate crash diets or food group deprivation. Yes, the people on the show go on fairly low-calorie diets, but they’re also trying to lose a specific amount of  weight in a very short time frame. They preach healthy habits.

So, please. Remember: balance is your friend. Eat your veggies and get your Omega 3’s. Eat a bowl of sour cream and onion chips while lying on the couch when it’s crappy outside. Have an apple at breakfast and maybe some fish during the week. Go for a bike ride or a swim. Enjoy that glass of wine at dinner. If you’re concerned about your food intake, I suggest keeping a food diary to see what you’re actually consuming during a week. You might be surprised at what you find.

But for goodness sake: be reasonable.

*I really, really hate that term. Can we please come up with something aside from  “lifestyle change?” It’s a little too close to “synergy” or “let’s parking lot that idea.” Blech.

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