This week I'm playing with the Thai Basil that I am growing in my herb garden. We're going to run a late #testkitchen this week (today rather than yesterday if all goes well!), making Thai salad rolls for dinner tonight and a Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken and vegetables for dinner tomorrow.
But why bother? Why change to a different kind of basil? Why not stick with the old one that is known and loved?
Over the years I've observed there are 2 basic kinds of eaters in the world: people who can eat the same thing all the time and be perfectly content, and people who want to eat different things all the time and rarely eat the same thing twice. I don't think either extreme is healthy or sustainable. In our family, we encourage a bit of both for a few different reasons:
By now you all are used to me talking about incorporating a variety of different colours into your food but we don't usually emphasize reasons for different flavours. I'm going to hone in on one reason this morning: "...waking up your taste buds".
Raising a family of picky children with a husband who came pretty picky himself has been a journey for us. At the beginning of parenting small children I was completely unprepared for picky eaters. The idea of it was as foreign to me as living in full darkness half a year. When I was a child, if my mom put food in front of me, I ate it. To be suddenly faced with gagging, vomiting, tears, and the rest was bewildering.
However, I firmly believe food should not be a fight. Ever. We determine what foods go on the table so we fully control what response we will get. We can talk more about this a different day.
Suffice it to say, providing different flavours to ourselves and our families can allow us to enjoy different foods while we are out and about at various times in our lives. Like it or not, most of us enjoy meals at places other than home. We can't always control what's for dinner, and so it makes sense to train our taste buds.
And that is it for today, friends. If you enjoyed this post, share it! Help me grow my business by getting my name and brand known! Tune in tomorrow on Facebook for a discussion on reverse meal planning and if you haven't "liked" my page yet, please do so- I don't want you to miss anything!
All the best!
We're talking about Romaine lettuce this week on my Facebook page, The Meals Maven.
A long, long time ago- before we had kids and were learning how to keep guinea pigs alive- we found out that feeding romaine to guinea pigs was a good idea, and feeding them iceberg lettuce was not.
The reason you start your piggies on romaine when they're young is it's full of nutrition. It turns out that piggies love iceberg lettuce, but there's not enough nutrition in it for them and they will eat it rather than romaine if they develop a taste for it.
This might be true for people too. What do you think?
It isn't that iceberg doesn't have any nutrition, just not as much. Here's a comparison of these 2 types.
On #foodiefriday I will be releasing the recipe I cooked last night for #testkitchentuesday- a ground turkey stirfry that incorporates stir fried romaine as one of the vegetables. It's new for me and something I will continue to do. I really enjoyed eating it as something other than salad.
And to successfully use last week's failed peanut and rosemary combination made the dinner perfect.
As discussed on #marinatingmonday, romaine is wonderfully nutritious and not an energy-dense food. As such, it's tempting to think it's the perfect food to eat a lot of when you are trying to lose weight. I want to encourage you, however, to consider colour as your guide. Eat the rainbow, whether you're trying to lose weight, gain, or maintain. A diet of romaine and not much else will quickly leave you with nutritional holes and diminished health. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
I leave you with what I seem to say all the time but can't stress enough: Too much of a good thing is still too much.
All the best today, friends!
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
“How are you doing that?” my oldest son asked, leaning against the counter and watching me. I was grabbing random jars of spices and herbs from the pantry, taking their lids off, sniffing them, and keeping some out while putting others back.
He’d been watching me for a couple of minutes while I measured random amounts of spices, adding them to my prep bowl and tasting or smelling as I went along. It was a test-kitchen day, and I was working on a new recipe.
“I don’t know,” I answered after considering for a minute. “I just do it. I was born to do this”. And it’s true, I realized.
Before I cooked, and long before it was trendy, I played with essential oils. I used to blend perfumes and massage oils, bath salts and bath bombs. I devoured books and studied everything I could about beneficial properties of different oils, the best oils that worked together, and the different ways to use them.
I remember just “knowing” what scents would work well together, which ones would help when I had a chest cold, which ones would soothe sadness or a headache, which ones would wake me up during a mid-day slump at my boring office job.
Spices and herbs contain essential oils, and recipe development comes naturally to me. I truly was born with this ability, and it’s all I want to do. There are days where I’m desperate to start working on a project that’s been growing in the back of my mind, but I can’t because I don’t have the time. Those days frustrate me because all I really want to do is cook. Then there are the days where I get to spend the whole day in my kitchen, and those are the days that light me up.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
Please follow me Facebook and sign up for my newsletters, and copy my free spice blend resource, shared with this post on Facebook. I can’t teach you how to blend your spices the same way I do, but there are some great suggestions on which spices and herbs work well with which foods.
If you need a hand figuring out how to make food and nutrition work for you, give me a call. We can chat for a few minutes to see if I can help. Sometimes you can't figure it out on your own, and if you're at the point where you know you're done trying it on your own, hiring me might be your next step.
Enjoy your week, friends!
My Baked Savoury Oatmeal turned out as tasty as I anticipated! Check out the recipe here. There will be more #testkitchen and other meal starter meals to follow!
Enjoy your week, friends!
I love playing with wonton wrappers. I know I've barely scratched the surface of all the interesting things you can do with them. In fact, I just found this fabulous article with other ideas that I'm going to have to play with down the road.
Tonight we made taco bites. I layered extra lean ground chicken in a silicone muffin pan, seasoned with homemade taco seasoning spice, layered with frozen corn and a slice of cheddar cheese, and topped with a second wrapper. These were baked @ 375*F for about 25 minutes. Served with salsa on the side, to accommodate my picky boys' palate, and fresh vegetables.
The second picture, above, is my BBQ pork nests. These were made by stir frying red peppers, garlic, and onions together with some already cooked leftover tenderloin strips. I mixed in a little sauce, topped them off with a bit of cheese, and baked for about the same length of time at the same temperature. They were delicious, and were a hit appetizer at the party I brought them to.
The third is a twist on the second. These wontons were cooked more traditionally, the BBQ pork stuffed inside the wrappers, sealed, boiled, and then pan fried until crisp. Served with coleslaw, they were given a 2-thumbs up by my first son.
Did any of these ideas inspire you to start playing around in your kitchen? #testkitchen fun! These are especially fun to use when you have some time and a few leftover ingredients you're looking to find a use for. I was able to use up the last of my pork tenderloin, the last pepper, and the end of my bag of frozen corn.
Enjoy your day, friends.
Did you know? On Facebook each Wednesday I post a new recipe based on the #testkitchen dinner we ate the night before. It's part of my #tuesdaysoupseries! It is weather dependent, of course, based on what it's doing outside in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta...it's mostly been soups, but as spring and summer inch closer I'll move along into sandwiches or salads too.
To get the recipe in beautiful pdf format, the only thing you have to do is show up, like the post, comment your answer to my question, and share it to your timeline or group, and I'll pm you the recipe.
If you haven't already "liked" my Facebook page, please head over there now to "like" it- then you shouldn't miss any updates! And, my weekly recipe is available right now- this is #7! To receive the others, just let me know you want them too.
Enjoy your Wednesday, friends!
I went grocery shopping on Friday, and refilled our fridge. Granted, it was getting a bit bare, but it's plenty full now. So when the first thing I hear from everyone in my family when they got home from school and work is "I'm hungry. What can I eat?" I motion to the newly filled fridge proudly.
"Well," I said, "there's yogurt and cheese, eggs, cucumbers, carrots, snap peas, apples, oranges, mandarin oranges, and pears. We have lettuce and coleslaw to make into salads or stuff into wraps, and there's cooked turkey and pork in the freezer so you can make yourself a great sandwich". To which is replied..."maybe I'll just have cereal" (says one) "Is that my only choice?" says the other. The third says, "I'll just go out and pick something up". Seriously? Sheesh.
To that end, I cooked a lot this weekend so there wouldn't be anymore "there is no food" comments. I made turkey and vegetable soup and lettuce wraps on Thursday and Friday, so we had lots of food for lunches this weekend. Saturday night I cooked a legume casserole (it was so good!). And Sunday was a food prep day for me to get us started on hot summer day meals. It's going to be close to July weather this week, and it's only May! I roasted beef, thawed out and cooked fish for fish tacos on Sunday and parmesan crusted tilapia for today, and made a meatless quesadilla filling for #testkitchen - I love recipe development! I cooked eggs for my breakfasts for the week, and cleaned up all the dishes that had somehow accumulated over the last few days.
I decided to make roast beef, because having cooked proteins in the freezer is a standard short cut I employ often when trying to make quick meals during soccer season and hot weather. It's a huge time saver, and helps keep our grocery budget down. A large chunk of meat cooked once can be spread out over many meals which brings down the cost per meal.
I chose to make fish tacos, because now that I've entered that contest to win a travel scholarship to Spain, I started second guessing the recipe, especially because it's been shared 26 times now, which is just incredible. Luckily it still tastes really good :) Phew!
Here's a shot of some of the cooking I did this weekend- the roast beef, fish (for tacos), and quesadilla fillings- sweet potato, navy beans, and brown rice. I'll get my freezer nice and stocked with that roast beef, and we'll enjoy some leftovers this summer. An important point to note when stocking your freezer is organization: rotate your frozen food. Put the most recent food going to the back of your section, however you sort it. Frozen food won't last forever, so do keep note of what is in there, and plan meals accordingly.
What did you do this weekend? Feel free to share!
Enjoy the week, friends,
And that's ok.
There are days when all there is left in the pantry and fridge is ingredients for breakfast. There are days when the only energy left in me for cooking is something simple, like pancakes. Sure, they aren't the most nutritious of foods, but they are a crowd pleaser. And when the plague hits your house the very last thing you want is to do engage in a complicated what's-for-dinner dance with your whiny, cranky, sick family. I did make it slightly more nutritious...half whole wheat flour. And look- there is fruit. In fact, we ate a lot of fruit that night. Vitamin C, baby.
Or Rice Pudding for Breakfast...
Rice pudding for breakfast sounds decadent, right? And it is. It's been the best part of my week, this week. It's crafted in the slow cooker, so all you have to do is mix everything together, turn it to high, take a nap, top it, and eat it. My recipe made a good 5 cups of pudding, so I did share a little with a friend because I am the only person in the house who enjoys it.
My recipe uses my favorite brown rice, and the best is topping it with a drizzle of milk, sliced fresh bananas and toasted walnuts. SO good, so filling, and very nutritious. It feels decadent, but there are all 4 food groups involved, and it's very satisfying. If you don't have that much leftover rice, use what you have, and cut the recipe in half. Or make more rice!
This is an exclusive recipe created by The Meals Maven! Please share but give credit!
So when you try it, let me know what you think! And feel free to share your favorite decadent, nutritious meal. All the best to you today, friends.
Hey, friends! I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted last. My dad passed away this month, and to be honest I found I had nothing worth writing about. I didn't feel like cooking, or experimenting, or even being in the kitchen. We ate out quite a bit here in my city before we left for the funeral, and of course when we were away we also ate out quite a bit. There were a couple of memorable meals at a few places while in Victoria, British Columbia.
This week, however, is the last week of school, and the kids are excited to be off school and very excited that Christmas is just a week away. I know I have to get myself back into some semblance of normal, so tonight is a #testkitchen night. The kids are familiar with the homemade dinner routine, and I know they've been feeling out-of-sorts while I've been less than my usual self.
About a year ago, I went out for dinner with my mom and cousins, and I enjoyed an amazing meal at Branches, the in-house eatery at Greenland Nursery in Sherwood Park. I've been dreaming of it ever since. It involved butternut squash pasta, chorizo sausage, and a brown-butter and sage sauce.
Tonight I attempted to recreate a similarly themed meal. I had some butternut squash mezzaluna (an exciting Costco find) to work with. I purchased some mild italian sausage, and some fresh sage leaves. My aim was to build the flavours together so that the sum total was better than each individual ingredient. Out of our whole family, I enjoyed it the most, although I did find it a bit bland. I've got one more package in the freezer to play with, and I know exactly how to up the ante and make this truly delicious. And I felt better being back in the kitchen, creating a meal for my family, using my time to cook as my time to contemplate in the solitude of my mind.
I hope you find your week before Christmas an exhilarating and enjoyable time together with friends and family. So many of us get stuck in the rut of expectations during the holiday season, but all of that is thrown off for me this year, and I find I'm not unhappy about that. Cherish your time with the ones you love, and let them know you love them. Merry Christmas, friends, and happy new year. May 2016 bring you peace, health, and joy.
I'll spare you too many details, but I've basically been fighting a cold off and on since we returned home from California, and after a solid 3 weeks of actually being sick with a wicked cough that won't go away, I was prescribed antibiotics.
Normally I'm not the type to go running to the doctor for medications. I grew up in the age of the miracle of antibiotics, and I know I was prescribed antibiotics far more than necessary as a child, so I'm very aware of the horrifying future of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Still, this cough has been really awful. It's kept me from sleeping soundly for several weeks now, which makes it hard to fight the infection, not to mention function well on a daily basis. The diagnosis...bronchitis. Normally this is a viral infection, so I'm a bit leery, but my doctor told me after this long, if it was viral it would be done with already. I've almost finished my dose of antibiotics, but they haven't really made any difference at all, so I'm going back today to ask to get swabbed for whooping cough. The only symptom I don't have is the "whoop", but I've read that's not uncommon in adults, and there's been an outbreak around my city.
Over the last few weeks I've stayed the course, mostly, in cooking dinners. In 4 weeks we've ordered in or taken out 3 times. Which isn't great, because pizza, for example, doesn't have a lot of nutrition- but not bad, considering how terrible I feel. I'm so glad I started stocking my freezer with freezer meals. Those have really helped.
I actually enjoyed a #testkitchen night last weekend. I discovered that pumpkin can be frozen raw. Our halloween pumpkins became 12 cups of (cooked) puree for loaves, and 4 cups of raw diced chunks (for entrees), plus a few cups of roasted seeds. I experimented with a coconut lentil and pumpkin curry dish served over basmati rice. It was delicious, and only the second son didn't enjoy it. Pictured above.
So over the last few weeks these are some of the foods we've eaten. A lot of soups...I think at least twice a week. I doubled a recipe of minestrone and filled up both my slow cookers one day, which was delicious, and gave us another couple of freezer meals. And a harvest vegetable soup, top right, which was really delicious. The pasta bowl is olive, tuna, and tomatoes with fresh parmesan, bottom right was pumpkin chips with chicken and asparagus/fresh tomatoes. A balanced snack one morning with white cheddar, whole wheat crackers, and grapes. And the ultimate comfort food...beef stroganoff.
I wish you a wonderful week. Peace and health to you! I hope to be on the mend soon to get posting more regularly.