Y’are Whatya Eat

These days, most people know that maintaining optimal health begins with what we eat.  The problem is in today’s world everything is fast paced including food.  In the olden days the mom would be home home cooking and keeping house all day long.  There would be time to bake homemade breads and cook all meals from scratch with wholesome ingredients.  This is just not possible anymore with 2 income families.  Even if one parent stays home there are tons of activities and things to get done that make this type of cooking nearly impossible.

ImageHere are some ways to facilitate the process of making healthy foods.  Consider small appliances as tools to make quick and easy recipes.  For example, a small immersion blender turns a pot of chunky vegetables into a smooth soup.  It does the same for a pot of meat sauce and the bonus is the kids won’t know you blended veggies into it!  A food processor is the king for chopping and grating.  I use mine to grate large blocks of cheese.  This saves me money because pre-grated cheese is a fortune.  I use the grated cheese on homemade pizza, over pasta, in casseroles and for omelets.  The standing mixer is da bomb when it comes to baking.  It’s easy to buy cookies and other snacks for lunches but nothing beats homemade especially since you can control the amount of sugar and the type of flour that goes into the recipe.  Home baked goods can be a source of whole grains and fiber.  Store bought less so.

When making a meal from scratch why not make a double batch and freeze it right away?  Chop the vegetables the night before and your meal will be half prepared when you get home from work.  Order your groceries online which creates more time to cook. As you can see, the key to healthy eating really is in the planning.  Take some time to make menus and grocery lists so you already know what to make for supper or go to a website like which does it for you.

These are just a few ideas to motivate you to cook more and order or eat out less.  Stay tuned for some cooking short cuts to create easy and healthy meals.

p.s. That is a picture of the Kitchenaid right before it caught fire. I was making homemade bread.

Dirty Cookbooks

How do you know you have your hands on a good cookbook?

You know, because it is filthy. As in it is covered in flour, sauce and other ingredients. If you want to find a great cookbook all you need to do is go into your best friend’s kitchen and pull off her shelf the dirtiest cookbook. Guaranteed you will find treasure in there.

Across Canada and the United States, kitchens everywhere are filled with dirty cookbooks written by Norene Gilletz. Every Ashkenazi Jewish woman knows where the best recipes are. Over the recent Passover holiday many ladies including myself reached for one or more of Noreen’s books to create sensational holiday meals. Lucky for me I got an advanced copy of her brand new updated book called The New Food Processor Bible. I started using it before Passover and felt the real test would be what I could cook with it during Passover. Basically, Passover is a challenging Jewish holiday because we cannot cook with flour only with Matzah meal and potato starch.

If you are a regular reader you know I was a baking disaster until late last year. Once I built up the confidence that I could actually bake I felt I needed to expand my kitchen gadgetry. There are 2 schools of thought for purchasing a machine. The first is the Stand Mixer group and the second is the Food Processor types. The first group favours a machine that has a removable bowl and a mixer that can take different attachments like a beater or a bread hook. The latter group like their machine with a steel blade in the middle. Many companies produce both types of machines. Kitchen Aid makes a popular stand mixer and Cuisinart makes an equally famous food processor. I figured if I was going to invest in a machine I better choose one that really meets my needs. I also polled a bunch of friends and 50% said stand mixer and 50% said food processor. It was fascinating to hear why each friend loved their particular machine. Some people even had both!

Finally, I decided to go with the Food Processor because Grandma told me to. I stole her old Food Processor cookbook. The yellow one that Norene wrote 30 years ago. I also noticed several recipes in Norene’s other cookbooks that own, had instructions for using the food processor.

The old recipes are tried and true but they lack essential nutrition information like calories and carbohydrate content important for weight control and diabetes information. The new cookbook is updated with nutrition information for every recipe. Norene added 150 new ones and many are even gluten free.

Back to Passover. I cannot believe I waited THIS long to get a food processor. What was I waiting for? The Messiah? I confess that in the past I ordered many side dishes. This was partially due to the kugel disaster of 2002 . This year I had my new friend and together we cooked up a storm. I made 2 perfect potato kugels, one white and one sweet. I made delicious Passover brownies and lemon squares. The piece de la resistance was the charoset.

My pro-stand mixer friends think that this machine is the cat’s meow for baking. I think they need to try some recipes from Noreen’s new book. Last night I made a sour cream chocolate cake. It was stupid easy and the clean-up even better. I wish I had a picture but it’s been eaten. Here is what the clean up looks like.

I am really enjoying my new toy and exploring the “Bible”. I still have Grandma’s old yellow one and I suppose I should give it back to her. I hope she can pry the sticky pages apart without ripping them!


Nutrition Confessions

Would you like a muffin by jencounter
I suck at baking. I have had more baking disasters then I
care to mention.   I have actually
scraped cream cheese for a cheese cake that flew out of my bowl and landed on
the floor, back into the bowl and served it. 
I have ruined homemade granola, cookies, cakes, icing, muffins, premade
challah dough and even rice Krispie squares. 
I tried to candy maple syrup once and it boiled over the pot, over the stove
and on to the floor.  I can’t properly
whip butter even with a Kitchenaid.

The reason why I am such a terrible baker is because I don’t
like following directions and have no patience. 
I also hate using more than one bowl. 
I really detest mixing the dry ingredients in one and the wet in another.  I enjoy making recipes up and not following
directions.  You can not do that with
baking.  It’s a science and everything
needs to be measured properly, put into the bowls in the correct order and
baked at the right temperature for the right amount of time.  As you can see, there is a lot places where
one screw up the recipe.

I really wish it weren’t this way.  I really want to be a baker.   I want
to make my own wholesome snacks for my children.
  I want to stop buying junk in little packages
for their lunch boxes.  My kids beg for
me to bake for them.  This winter I even
tried to become a half baker. I bought this muffin mix from Loblaws.  It’s reasonably healthy and fairly easy to
make.  But, after a few batches it became
boring and no one was eating them.

I know several people who are ‘bakers’.  They make wonderful homemade baked goods for
their kids effortlessly.
  I like going to
their houses. Unfortunately, we don’t get too many invites these days because
my kids devour all their homemade goodies.

In the olden days there was no such thing as store bought
baked goods.  Granted, women used to keep
house and part of their daily work was creating the family meal plan from
scratch.  Today it is all about
convenience and time saving techniques. 
I have grown up that way too.  My
mother worked and baked only on occasion. 
My grandmother didn’t work but also only baked on occasion. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies by jamieanne
Ironically, as I sit here writing this my kid just got
dropped off by my mother with a tin of homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
that she made.  From a nutrition
perspective, regularly eating a ton of baked goods will surely end up on your
waistline.  It’s all about moderation.  I just ate 2 of my mother’s cookies and
tossed the rest into the freezer.  I will
put them in my kid’s lunch boxes instead of those dreaded Bear Paws.

The question is, would you pay a premium to have someone else
bake for you?  I would! Stay tuned for
Friday and to find about a new supplier.