Friday Finds: Spelt with Red Pepper

June 2010 029
I swear I do not work for Loblaws.  I guess the Blue Menu stuff really appeals to
me and they have a ton of new products. 
I thought this spelt one looked good. I was wrong.  To be fair, I have never eaten spelt
before.  Spelt is a whole grain and whole
grains are good for us. 

Nutritionally speaking, the ingredients read well.  The food label indicates 4g of fiber per
serving of 170 calories, not bad.
not too high in sodium and there is not much sugar. 

June 2010 032

June 2010 031I knew I was in trouble when I opened the flavour sack and
it smelled like cheese. Yuck KD flavoured spelt.  I added about 3 cups of water to a medium
sized pot just like it said and then dumped in both pouches.  I brought it to a boil and then simmered it
over medium for 20 minutes.  The spelt
became engorged with water and the sauce thickened.  I removed it from the stove and let it stand
for 5 minutes.  It wasn’t pretty.  In fact, it looked nothing like the
picture.  The food designers who set up
the picture on the box deserve an award. 
My concoction looked ugly and unappetizing, kind of like a pan full of maggots.  It tasted ok-ish but I wouldn’t buy it

June 2010 036
There has got to be a better way to eat spelt.  Does anyone know of any products or recipes?

June 2010 043




Friday Finds: Blue Menu Smoothie mango peach

June 2010 002
I know another product from the Blue Menu line at
Bloblaws.  I guess I am a sucker for good
marketing.  I generally do not recommend
juice to my clients because it’s basically sugared water.  However, I am comfortable with vegetable (low
sodium V8) or fruit purées.  This type of
beverage maintains the fiber in the food. 
Juicing is the process of leaving the fibre out.  Remember, a smoothie or fruit blend is still
a cup of calories.  If you are watching
your weight this may not be the best choice because of that and because
drinking your calories usually doesn’t result in satiety.  Also, this product has added juice so it is
not a ‘true” smoothie fruit blend and therefore has a minimal amount of  fiber (2g per serving).  A medium pear with skin has over 5g.

June 2010 009
I picked up this beverage last week when it was on
sale.  It was the only flavour left.  It would not have been my first choice.  I would have preferred the strawberry banana
blend.  I was pleasantly surprised by its
wonderful texture and taste.  The
ingredients indicate that it is a puree with added juice and I assume the
industrial type blenders bring it to its smooth consistency.  If I were to add the same ingredients to my
blender at home there is no way I could get it to be that smooth.  Herein lies its appeal.  The texture rocks so much so that I could
easily over consume it if I am not careful. 
It is 150 calories per cup and according to the label can be counted as
2 fruit choices as per
Food Guide.  My suggestion is to pour it
over ice and sip it slowly.  Or, how
about mixing it with some fizzy water like Perrier or club soda?

Free Food!

I live near an IGA.I  have been told that supposedly it's the
most expensive supermarket in the Greater Montreal area.  I do not know if it is true but whenever I go
Loblaws I generally go $100 over budget. 
I figure it is best to stick with my local supermarket than venture too far out of my way.  The further I go, the more money I spend or
so it seems.

Anyway, I find it thrilling that the IGA gives
away free food every week.  Okay, maybe
it's not really free you have to spend $70 first.  I usually end up with 2 or 3 free items a
week depending on my grocery bill.   The
most exciting items given away over the last year, for me, were the Starbucks
coffee, all purpose natural cleaner and dark chocolate. However, my friends
seem to think the
Lindt Petits Desserts they gave away earlier this month
ruled.  Nobody cared when I pointed out
the Trans fat in them.  They gobbled them
up and snubbed my warning instead.

They do give out a ton of free fruits and
vegetables.  A few weeks ago it was broccoli
followed the next week by cauliflower. 
The broccoli was easy to steam and serve but I had so much cauliflower I
didn't know what to do with it.  I used
one head to make an Indian inspired dish and then I posted on
Twitter and
Facebook for suggestions on what to do with the rest.  The peeps who responded suggested I roast the
cauliflower and serve it as is. 
 I tried it.  I drizzled the cauliflower pieces with olive
oil and pepper and baked it at 400°F for about 20 minutes.  I took it out and tasted it and it did not
excite me so I put it in a container and left it the fridge Richard just told
me he ate it heated up with cold hummus. 
He said it was great.  But, this
comes from a man who would eat
Alpo heated up and served in a bowl. 

April 2010 001 I decided to make a soup with the 2 heads I had
left.  I checked some cookbooks and some
online sites just to see what the main ingredients are.  It seems that cauliflower goes well with leeks
and curry.  I started off my soup as I
start off all my recipes, sautéing onions and garlic in canola oil.  I added sliced leeks and when they were
translucent I added chunks of cauliflower,
sweet potato, vegetarian broth and
water.  I boiled it and brought it to a
simmer for about an hour.  Then I
realized I forgot to roast the curry (by adding it to the onion and garlic sauté)
so I heated a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low in a separate pan.  I added the curry and roasted it for about 3
minutes.  I knew it was ready when the
curry filled my kitchen with an exotic aroma. 
I added it to my pot and then pureed the soup.  Finally, I tasted it and felt it was missing
something.  I added some freshly ground
ginger and some pepper.  The result?
Perfection!  Basically, I created this
soup with an intuition that the ingredients would go well together.  I can honestly say I have never made a
cauliflower soup before.  It was fun and
satisfying to use up this free cauliflower and for it not going to waste.  Can't wait to see what they give out this


Friday Finds: Pizza!

March 2010 096This weeks
Friday Finds pizza!  Let’s be honest
here, everybody has nights where they don’t feel like cooking.  I know I do and it’s pretty easy to stock the
freezer with frozen pizza. There are so many different brands and types of
pizza out there but I think I found two reasonably healthy choices.  The first one is from IGA Compliments
Biologique and the other one is from the Loblaws Blue Menu line.  Both are vegetarian.

March 2010 061 When
looking for a prepared food like pizza, you have to look at the food
label.  I know it’s complicated but if
you start getting used to looking at it you will make healthier food
choices.  Depending on your health status,
you will be looking at different parts of the label than someone else.  For instance, if you have high blood pressure
the first thing you need to look at is the sodium amount.  It really has to be as low as possible.  Someone else who is concerned about
cholesterol might need to increase fiber and so on.  For my family and myself I am concerned about
portion size, sodium, fibre and fat.  When
I say fat, it means I am looking to avoid trans fats and keep our daily intake
of saturated to 10%.  Since I rarely cook
with saturated fat (I use unsaturated like canola, grapeseed oil or olive oil
instead) we would get it from something I didn’t make such as frozen pizza.

March 2010 057Both pizzas
contain between 11%-13% saturated fats. 
Not too bad if we didn’t eat out at some other point during the
day.  There are 2 grams of fiber in the
Blue Menu and 5 in the Compliments.  If
you check the ingredients both contain enriched wheat flour but the Compliments
has enriched whole wheat flour which seems to account for the fiber discrepancy.  There is 24% (of the daily value) sodium in
the Compliments and 15% in the Blue Menu. Again if you ate low sodium all day
then the Compliments one might be just fine. 
Consider the portions sizes for all of this nutrition information.  The Blue Menu is for 103 grams and the
Compliments is for 127 grams.  It should
be noted that according to
Food Guide a serving of grain product weighs about 35 grams.  If we take into consideration the toppings on
the pizzas these servings would be equivalent to about 2 – 2.5 grains.

The big selling point for the Compliments pizza is that it is marketed as organic.  I pay no attention to this as it means nothing without a proper definition of organic and the origins of their ingredients. I consider it an advertising ploy and not a necessarily a superior nutritional product.

March 2010 084The big
question now is which one tastes better! 
I guess that is subjective but we all thought the Blue Menu one tasted
better.  It was reminiscent of delivered
pizza with its soft chewy crust.  The
cheese and mushrooms had a nice creamy garlic flavor.  The Compliments was more crunchy and loaded
with spinach, red peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and onions.  The vegetables were a bit soggy.

Since both
pizzas had between 10 – 13 grams of protein a great side dish with these pizzas
could be a chickpea salad or a lentil soup. 

What is
your favorite frozen pizza

Friday Finds: Loblaws Blue Menu Bulgur and Quinoa with Chickpeas

Here is the first post in a series entitled Friday Finds.  I will post interesting foods I find around town.  If you've been reading my blogs you know I encourage home cooked meals as much as possible to achieve healthy eating. Realistically speaking though, even for me, I need to take some short cuts sometimes. 

During the course of the Olympics, there was a commercial being aired by Galen Weston promoting some new President's Choice Blue Menu items.  Intrigued I deceided to try some of them.  

IMG_9545The one I am sharing with you is Bulgur with Quinoa and Chickpeas. Quinoa is a grain but it is also a complete protein. Therefore, you can get away with smaller portions of animal based protein like chicken or fish when served with quinoa. Additionally, chickpeas are also a source of protein so you really don't need to load up on chicken, fish or meat with this product. I served it with homemade skinless boneless roasted chicken and carrots. I thought it was outstanding. It was very tasty and aromatic.   

When buying prepared foods always take a look at nutrition label on the back of the package. It would be difficult to briefly describe how food labeling works. However, here are a couple of quick things to pay attention to.  First, check the portion size. IMG_9553
The nutrition information for this product is for 1/4 of the package. If you plan on eating more than that then you'll have do the calculations for the larger portion. Second, check the fat amount in grams. A rule of thumb would be 5 grams of fat per portion (3 grams or less for saturated fat and NO trans fat). Third, check for sodium. Ideally you do not want any sodium but that is not realistic for a packaged food. Look for about 200 mg or less of sodium which is about 8% of the daily value (total amount of sodium for the day). This product has 18%, not ideal but better than most prepared foods. Finally, check the fiber content on the label.  Look for something with at least 5 grams per serving which this product has. There are many other aspects to consider when reading a food label but the ones mentioned should give you a quick idea if the food is worth buying. 


Because this product is higher in protein than most side dishes why not double the portion and add an extra 1/2 cup of chickpeas and make it into a vegetarian meal? Throw in 1 cup of frozen cooked vegetables and you should feel pretty satisfied.  If you have tried or will try this product let us know what you think!