Saturday, July 26, 2008

Homemade Granola Goodness

Wouldn't it be nice to sit down to a bowl of delicious granola in the morning knowing you made it and that it tasted better than anything you bought in a store....well you can.

You could have come to my Breakfast Cooking Class to learn how, or you could simply find a recipe that suits your needs to make a batch of this golden toasted goodness.

But I will give you some quick tips to get started with.

First of all get yourself some good quality organic whole rolled oats. This will be your basis and substance to the recipe. Use sweeteners such as maple syrup, agave nectar, honey. Oils such as sunflower oil, coconut oil or organic canola oil. Then comes the fun part adding such things as almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, apricots, raisins, goji berries....whatever you want! It's yours to enjoy. Just store it in a glass jar and it will keep for a good couple of months.

So really it is that easy to make granola at home. Then you don't have to worry that it is loaded with trans fats, processed sugars and other preservatives.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Hidden Truth about Calcium!

Who needs a calcium supplement when you can get it from food! No, not from dairy ... but from plant based whole foods!

Learning about which foods have significant levels of calcium is crucial especially if you are concerened about your bones or current calcium intake levels. Unfortunately, I hate to break the news to you, but the Calcium that you think you are getting from a glass of milk, a cup of "low fat" yogurt or slice of cheese is not being absorbed into your body in a usable or beneficial form. In fact it is doing quite the opposite.

The truth is, dairy (especially commercially processed dairy) is extremely acidic to the body and especially to the bones. So when you consume any form of processed dairy, it is actually stripping calcium away from your bones rather than building on to it. So most individuals in North America, predominantly women could be responsible for thier own weakening bone conditions as a result of overconsuming commercial dairy. But not to fret, this can be taken care of and quite possibly reversed.

All you have to do is start consuming adequate amounts of Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium. These sources which come from plant based foods, are extremely bioavailable to the body and they taste great too!

So get your daily dose of greens in (chard, kale, beet greens, collards, broccoli and bok choy). You can steam them, blanch them, saute them, add them to soups, salads or grain dishes--you can even hide them in a smoothie. Consume nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds, all great sources of calcium, iron, protein and essential fatty acids. Other hidden but rich sources of calcium include tempeh, avocado, parsley, figs, carob, beans and legumes, salmon and quinoa.
So do what you will, but you can avoid taking expensive supplements and consuming commercial dairy and simply get your calcium from nature. Your body and your taste buds will thank you!


Parsley and Scallion "Butter" with Steamed Greens
This recipe is inspired by Anne Gentry owner of Real Food Daily (Vegan Restaurant in Los Angeles)


1 bunch of greens such as kale, beet greens, collards, swiss chard, bok choy or spinach

1 ½ cup fresh scallions, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh parsley
3 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoons umeboshi paste
1 teaspoons minced peeled fresh garlic


Steam greens and rinse with cold water to maintain brightness.
Combine all ingredients of "butter" in a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.
Transfer the spread to a small bowl.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and allow flavors to blend and the spread will become slightly firm.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Humid Effect on Baking

Well it is true, you will never get the result you want in a baked recipe when there is moisture in the air.

I was preparing my weekly batch of Spelt Blueberry Banana muffins, same ingredients each week in their proper amounts but the outcome... not the same. They just didn't want to rise. They normally have this nice little peak in the very center, but not this time. I must mention however, that the slight moisture in the air, brought about a very moist and tender muffin. So the taste, was delicious---they were just a little flatter and smaller than my usual batch. So really you can't beat the heat, when an order comes in, its got to be done. Just be aware that your muffins may not "muff" up like they usually do when the air is wet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who knew rolling sushi could be so simple?

Everybody loves going out to eat Sushi. But wouldn't it be nice to make Sushi at home? Well those participants who came to join me last night for the AMAZING ASIAN cooking class, had the chance to do just that.

There is such fear around making sushi. People seem to think that it is so difficult and tell themselves, "I can't do that"! Well I will tell you what, you can! Also nobody thinks that sushi can taste that good if it's made out of brown rice...wrong again!

So let's go through the steps and simplify this for you.

All you need is a Bamboo sushi mat (approximately $2.00), some short grain brown rice, thinly sliced veggies of your choice (carrots, cucumber, avocado, scallions, mushrooms etc...) Nori (seaweed) sheets, water to dip your fingers in and a sharp knife. You can even add your own condiments such as yellow pickled ginger and wasabi.

There really is no skillful technique, just some practice. All you need to do is place the nori sheet on the bamboo mat vertically, spread the rice out on the nori filling it out abot half way or more, place your veggie strips in a line across the middle ...and then get ready to roll. Wrap the bottom layer over itself with the bamboo and give it a tight press on each turn and go all the way through until you have one rolled up sushi log. Then sliced it up into 8 little bit sized pieces.

And there you have it, Sushi at home. This was definitely the highlight of last nights class. Everyone was amazed at how simple it really is to make healthy vegetarian sushi at home.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sensational Summer Cooking Class - A True Success

I really do love to cook - but I love teaching people how to cook even more!

My new series of cooking classes have started off great!
A wonderful group of five lively and lovely ladies joined me for a wonderful evening of delicious summer recipes.

Everyone was greeted with a fresh glass of ginger-goji berry lemonade and then sat down to watch a demo of a creamy guacomole being prepared with fresh green garden peas, to be dipped in by organic blue corn chips. This is a delicious and nutritious twist to a traditional guacamole recipe. The peas add some depth, flavour and some good quality protein as well! The bowl was empty within seconds.

We then got into a discussion of the natural and fresh ingredients that were going to be used in the class. Everyone had questions to be answered.

Most questions were stemmed around what the difference is between some conventional ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar and what the natural alternatives were that we would be using in this class.

So I did my fair share of explaining that Tamari is a naturally fermented source of Soy Sauce that does not contain any wheat or additives. The sources of sugar we used in the class were either brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave nectar, which are all from natural plant or food sources. Whichs means they contain some vitamins and minerals that would not be found in traditional white sugar. It was also pertanent to mention that brown rice syrup and agave nectar do not spike blood sugar levels as rapidly as processed sugar does.

It is always so great and rewarding to educate people on basic things that they can take home and bring into thier own cooking and daily eating. There are so many questions around food, and I am always more than happy to bridge this gap, and make clear what is confusing.

So the evening carried on with everyone making one of the many recipes that were to be prepared in the class. Everyone got to choose between making either: Tangy Thai Lettuce Wraps, Apple-Fennel salad with a Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette, Quinoa Tabule, Green Beans with Hazelnuts, White Bean Dip with Dill, Citrus Tempeh Skewers or Creamy Lemon Tarts. A tough decision to make, I know!

But everyone chose the recipe that made them eager and excited to prepare .
The recipes turned out fantastic and everyone learned a new technique or two to make things easier for them in the kitchen, whethter it was how slice fennel on a mandoline, processing quick dressings in a blender or vitamix or blanching broccoli to get crisp and tender floret, everyone got something helpful and useful out of the class.

Then after two hours of fun in the kitchen, we all sat down to enjoy the wonderful sampling of all the recipes together, plus there was plenty of leftovers to take home!

After such a great experience, I am really looking forward to my next upcoming summer classes and I hope you can make it to one of them!