Kale Mango Green Smoothie

Two of the newest fads in the food world is kale and green smoothies. Unlike many other food fads, these are ones I can get behind. I want to share with all of you a recipe I learned earlier this year for a Kale (Or Spinach) Green Smoothie.

Kale is a great dark green vegetable that provides vitamin A and K. The high fibre content in kale gives it a really interesting texture that I liken to collard greens. What I love most about kale salads is that unlike lettuce or other salad mixes, the dressing won’t wilt it down in just a couple of hours. It stays vibrantly crisp even after cooking it down in soups.

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I had this smoothie while I was doing my Stage at Royal Victoria College – a McGill residence. They make this smoothie in their dining hall. I immediately told my supervisor, family and friends that I had just drank the best smoothie I’d ever had in my life. A couple of months later, I taught a basic nutrition class at two elementary schools and the kids loved it! They said “ew” and “gross” as they watched me pour all the kale into the blender but soon after, they oo-ed and ah-ed and proceeded to ask me for the recipe to give to mom and dad at home to make for them. I was really pleased with the outcome.

I love kale and spinach. However, I realize that not everyone does. BUT I can assure you that this smoothie may likely change you and your children’s minds about these dark and nutritious vegetables.

So follow this recipe and have a taste. It’s the closest I’ve gotten to the smoothie I had at RVC.

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Kale Mango Soy Smoothie (it’s Vegan!)

Makes 4-5 cups

  • 2 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1 cup no-added sugar orange juice or apple juice (or even just regular milk or water!)
  • 1 banana
  • 1.5 – 2 cups of kale (or spinach!!) – or more
  • 1 cup of frozen mangos

Directions

Add it all into the blender – I usually go with the exact order I listed (liquids first!). The recipe is approximate, and feel free to have fun with it. Add a lot of kale and spinach! If you like your smoothie thicker – add more frozen mango.

The secret is, the vanilla soy milk. It adds a nutty and sweet flavour to the smoothie that milk or regular soy milk just doesn’t. Try it with other smoothies too! This is great for those who are lactose-intolerant or have dairy allergies.

As the weather in Montreal is getting nicer, try this and let it become a summer staple.

D the Intern

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Coconut Oil and Alzheimer’s

84DE5FFB-AF0F-420A-BB5F-B5C79E404033When I was working in public home care, I used to visit a lot of seniors.  Sadly, many of them had some form of mild to severe dementia.  At one of my home visits, a family member of one of my clients asked me if coconut oil was good for improving the memory of those with Alzheimer’s.  I told them I never heard about that.  I went back to my office and I did a bit of googling and found that there were in fact studies being done on this.  Researchers where looking at the fatty acids in the oil to see of they had any effect.

I met a few other families that had heard about this and were cooking with coconut oil and telling me that it was helping their loved ones.  Who was I to tell them there wasn’t yet enough evidence to confirm that coconut oil improves memory? Many seniors especially those over the age of 80 are at risk for malnutrition as evidenced by weight loss secondary to myriad of issues.

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Here is a current article written by a dietitian on the Extenso website that confirms that coconut oil is not the cure for Alzheimer’s.  But coconut oil is fat.  Fat has calories.  Calories are needed for weight gain especially for those who need to increase weight to improve health status.  It would be remiss to tell those clients not to try it.

The placebo effect is a beautiful thing.

Addendum: Dr. Joe posted this on October 10, 2013!

 

 

(Featured image taken off madeofmuscle.net)

 

Food tips for students that help your health- and your wallet by guest blogger Emily Bell

 I’ve just started my seventh year of post-secondary education. I’ve been doing this “student” thing for a decent amount of time now, and am looking forward to (finally) entering the workforce within the next year. That being said, I’ve learned quite a bit in the past six years- and not just in school. As a result of becoming independent and assuming life’s responsibilities, I’ve learned some ways to take control of feeding myself healthily, affordably and efficiently.

Life as a student presents many challenges to eating: time to cook becomes an issue when we become buried in our books, the food we want to eat can seem expensive when it’s you doing the groceries instead of mom and dad, and there are always ample opportunities to indulge on unhealthy, unnecessary extra calories (think of that after-bar-poutine or that study group pizza).

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 Here are some of my ideas to deal with the above challenges:

  • On a less busy day, make a big pot of homemade soup or chili. Once finished, separate it into plastic containers and put them in the freezer. Come midterm season, let the container thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave, and have a ready-to-eat meal in no time! You can also cook the equivalent of a few meals on a Sunday night to store in the fridge for some no-prep dinners in the coming week.
  • Plan meals before grocery shopping and think of several different dishes that could use overlapping ingredients. For example, it’s hard to use an entire head of spinach (I opt for the head rather than bagged because its less expensive). To get your moneys worth and prevent waste, find recipes for a main course spinach salad, serve it as a side dish, and add it to soups, omelets, pasta and sandwiches. Getting creative with ingredients makes it possible to use them up and avoid getting sick of them.
  • Buying meat less often also saves money. Try incorporating other inexpensive sources of protein such as beans, lentils, tofu and canned tuna into your diet. This is also an environmentally friendly decision since growing and transporting livestock consumes more energy than produce.
  • Find out the places on campus to get affordable or even free food and ask your grocery store if they have any student discounts. My campus offers a free vegetarian lunch every Thursday, provided the students bring their own dishes to keep the event environmentally friendly. Friends of mine who have been studying in the cafeteria around closing hours have been offered that day’s leftovers. The grocery store near my house offers students a 10% discount at the beginning of the week as well as free delivery. Finding good food deals may be easier than you think!
  • A good way to avoid that heavy late night snack or a spontaneous trip to the corner store for chips and chocolate is to keep tasty yet healthy options on hand. Low-fat low-sodium microwave popcorn satisfies my salty cravings (and provides a generous amount of fiber). Pop-in-your-mouth fruits like grapes or berries please my sweet palate- they’re sort of like nature’s candies anyways!
  • If you’re absolutely craving that pizza, I suggest making your own. Buy a premade multigrain crust or use a whole-wheat pita, add some tomato sauce or pesto, load it with a ton of fresh veggies, and top with some cheese. This is a yummy way to incorporate one or two servings of vegetables, it can last for a few meals, it is healthier than frozen or fast food pizza, and it still manages to hit the spot. 

These tips are simple and easy, but that’s what I think works about them- they are doable! So start today and try one out!

Finally, a perfect salad cuite.

The mysterious Sephardic salade cuite has been reproduced in my kitchen today! I had almost given up on this savoury tomato and pepper salad but I thought I would give it one more chance.

I am very happy that I did. It turned out perfectly and the secret ingredient is patience.

I am posting the recipe here before I forget what I did. I wonder what the Jittery Cook and Norene have to say about this salad.

Caryn’s Salad Cuite Ashkenaz Style

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 red peppers whole
  • 2 green peppers whole
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP Paprika
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil

Cook the peppers in the oven or on the BBQ (I used the BBQ because my oven was busy with Apple Cake, Broccoli and Lukshen Kugels) until they are totally black. Let them cool and then peel off the blackened skins. Remove all seeds. Chop them up and set aside.

Heat a TBSP of canola oil and toss in the garlic. Cook for about a minute. Dump the tomatoes in and bring to a boil. Add the sugar.

Toss in the peppers and the rest of the oil into the pot. Now is a good time for the paprika, salt and pepper. Get a good boil going and then turn the heat down, to just below the medium setting.

Here is where the patience comes in. You have to stir the mixture so it doesn’t burn. Do this every 5 minutes or so while the recipe reduces. It took about 2 hours to get to the right consistency.

Let the recipe cool down and then transfer it to a container and store in the fridge. Serve cold.

If you like it spicy add some tabasco sauce or hot pepper flakes along with the other spices.

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Olive Oil in Texas? I thought they only had bubbling crude, black gold, Texas tea….

On a recent trip to Texas, while staying here, I took a day trip to a real organic olive oil ranch with my family. My Aunt and Uncle, who both live in Austin, adopted a little olive tree. We stopped by the ranch to check on it since Texas is having a drought. It turns out all these beautiful trees are being irrigated regularly and the hope is they will start producing fruit by next year.

Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Ranch is located in the Austin hill country and there is also a thriving olive oil agriculture in California. The climate in Austin is hot, hot, hot in the summer but olive trees love that. Olive trees are one of the toughest trees around and they can handle abuse.

One of the son-in-laws of one the Gambini owners gave us a tour of the orchard and explained the process of raising olive trees. These trees need to be pruned very often to facilitate fruit production. If they don’t get pruned they get lazy and grow all over the place like snakes, and then they don’t produce much fruit.

We learned that the USA regulates the production of olive oil to ensure a top quality rancid free product. I was always under the impression that European olive oil producers were under the same strict regulations. Not so, said our guide. He is convinced the best product stays in their respective countries and lower quality oil gets exported. Well, one taste of the Californian/Texan olive oil and I was convinced too. A a high quality olive oil causes a mild burning sensation when it hits the back of your throat and it has an ever so slight bitterness to it.

While we visited Texas Hill Country Olive Oil Ranch my uncle treated us all to olive oil gelato. What a delicacy! We sampled vanilla, chocolate and rosemary with different flavoured balsamic vinegar. My favourite for the ice cream was blackberry but the fig went well with the kettle chips.

To find out more about Texas Hill Country Olive Oil click here.

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The Good Food Box – Get Involved! Get Local!

The Good Food Box has a new drop off location at the Aquatic and Community Centre in Cote Saint Luc.

What is the Good Food Box, you ask? Basically, the Good Food Box is a collective buying program run by Harvest Montreal allowing for the purchase of top quality produce at lower prices. This initiative started in 2002 and you can read more about the history on the Good Food Box website at www.bonneboitebonnebouffe.org

 

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Currently, there are over 70 drop off points across the Island of Montreal. For a complete list, please visit their website. Most of these drop off points are out of community run organizations. What makes the new drop off location in Cote Saint Luc so unique is that it is a partnership between the CSSS Cavendish (CLSC Rene-Cassin), the City of Cote Saint Luc and Harvest Montreal.

A pilot project was launched in the summer of 2012 and was very well received. Now the Good Food Box is open to all citizens of Cote Saint Luc. The initial concept was conceived in an effort to improve the nutritional status of seniors in CSL. CSL is known for its senior population. Many of these seniors live on a fixed income and are not eating well at all. Providing fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost greatly improves the odds of a achieving a healthier diet. As it turns out, CSL has many low income families who would benefit from this project as well.

The project is not just for those at risk, it is for anyone that wants to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. The caveat is that you have to really love fruits and vegetables! Each small, medium and large box priced at 7$, 10$ and 16$ respectively, contain an assorted variety of fresh produce. It’s like getting a surprise every two weeks. Moisson Montreal provides a newsletter and a recipe with each delivery. The recipe usually pertains to the unusual fruit or vegetable in the bunch. When in doubt make soup!

Mossion Montreal makes an effort to purchase locally grown produce whenever possible. In the winter this is challenging but an effort to provide local is still made as exemplified by the inclusion of Quebec root vegetables and apples.

For more information and to order your Good Food Box please call (514) 484-7878 poste 1501

P.S. If you are a shut in senior that would like to receive the Good Food Box but cannot pick it up you may qualify for the volunteer delivery service.

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Dr. Joe Schwarcz: The Right Chemistry

I recently attended a book signing by Cote Saint Luc’s very own Dr. Joe Schwarcz. Dr. Joe, as he is affectionately known by students and admirers alike, has a new book entitled The Right Chemistry.  It is his 13th book and it takes the ‘‘mistry” out of chemistry. The Right Chemistry is filled with wonderful vignettes about science written with humour and interesting facts.   As Dr. Joe always says “You need the sugar to make the medicine go down!”

Dr. Joe is known for making chemistry fun, fascinating and accessible to the masses.  Dr. Joe teaches chemistry at McGill and is noted for his interesting lectures.  He also gives talks to the regular folks too, like his monthly Mondays at the Cote Saint Luc Eleanor London Library called Science Demystified.

Over the years Dr. Joe has become a kind of watchdog for the quack science that has emerged more rapidly and venomously than ever before.  This is probably due to the advent of the internet, email, social media etc.   A lot of the claptrap out there is attached to health claims from disease curing foods to the evils of plastics.  Chances are if you have a question about something you got in an email or saw on the internet then Dr. Joe has already received an email about it.  According to Dr. Joe, many of these questions can be answered with one word: Nonsense!  Why? Because you need properly conducted scientific studies that are evidenced based to promote accurate health information.

Nutrition is a hot topic these days.  It seems like one day eggs are the devil and the next day they are the star.  Butter recently made a comeback while sugar is the new evil.  Dr. Joe is an encyclopedia of science but especially so with nutrition.  He sifts through all the garbage and promotes only evidence based nutrition information. He says that you can’t go wrong if you eat your fruits and veggies.

Dr. Joe has a handful of recipes he created with some well studied ingredients.  I am pleased to say that Dr. Joe has given me permission to post these recipes. Watch for them over the next few weeks.

Most of these recipes can be found in their cooked form at my neighbourhood fruit and vegetable store called Quality Fruits.  As local lore has it, Dr. Joe’s vegetarian goulash was created as a joke.  These days you can often find Dr. Joe doing quality control and tasting the wonderful foods.  If you happen to see Dr. Joe at Quality don’t hesitate to go up to him and say hi.  He will not bigfoot you and will gladly answer that burning question you have about blueberry enzymes curing your gout.