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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Iced Melon and Berry Soup

Honeydew melon is perfect for this dazzling display, but it is essential that the melon be very ripe and sweet. Serve the soup as a refreshing first course when the weather is hot, dressing up each bowlful with a swirl of berry purée and some whole berries as a garnish. 

1 ripe honeydew melon (about 2 lb/1 kg)
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
1-in. (2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) blueberries
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
2 tbsp (25 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) raspberries or strawberries
Plus Points

• All melons provide vitamin C and are very low in calories. Their high water content makes them a delicious and refreshing thirst quencher.

• Ginger is thought to be an anti-inflammatory agent that can help ease some of the symptoms of arthritis.

Halve the melon, discard the seeds, and use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the peel into a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice and ginger. Purée until smooth, pausing occasionally to push the pieces of melon to the bottom of the goblet or bowl. Pour the purée into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool, about 30 minutes.
Put the blueberries into the blender or food processor. Add the orange juice and yogourt and purée until smooth. Transfer to a second bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool, about 30 minutes.
Divide the melon soup among 4 chilled glass bowls. Swirl a quarter of the blueberry purée in the centre of each bowl. Scatter the raspberries or strawberries on top. Serve immediately.

preparation time 20 minutes 
chilling time 30 minutes 
serves 4

Nutritional information 
Each serving provides: calories 84, calories from fat 9, fat 1 g, saturated fat 0 g, cholesterol 1 mg, carbohydrate 20 g,
fibre 3 g, sugars 16 g, protein 2 g.
Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 1
Eat to Beat Diabetes

Japanese Tomato & Tofu Soup

Dashi stock is the base for many Japanese dishes. It’s sold as a powder and is available from most large supermarkets or Asian grocery stores. If you prefer, you can substitute with a chicken stock cube instead.

By Michele Cranston

2 Tbsp (30 mL) dashi powder (or chicken stock cube)
2 tsp (10 mL) rice wine
1/4 cup (60 mL) white miso paste
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup (250 mL) baby spinach leaves
1 Tbsp (15 mL) low-sodium soy sauce
3 cups (750 mL) firm tofu, cubed

Measure dashi powder into a large mixing bowl or measuring container, and add 4 cups (1 L) of boiling water. Stir to dissolve, then pour into a saucepan. Add rice wine, miso paste and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Add diced tomatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add spinach leaves and soy sauce, and cook for a minute until leaves start to wilt. Divide cubed tofu equally among four soup bowls and ladle broth overtop.

Nutritional information 
Serves four.

Per serving: 116 calories, 10 g protein, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 0 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium

Best Health Magazine, November 2012; Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Julienned Vegetable Slaw

This fresh, crispy salad will work well with any seasonal vegetables. If you don’t like your vegetables too crisp, you can blanch them all for a couple of minutes before adding the vinaigrette and then refrigerate them. 

1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
2 Tbsp (30 mL) rice vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sesame seed oil
1 tsp (5 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil

20 yellow beans, ends trimmed
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, cut into long matchsticks
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 stalk celery, cut into matchsticks
1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced red cabbage
1/3 English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts, washed
Handful cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add 2 cups (500 mL) water to a small saucepan, boil water and blanch yellow beans for one minute (or all veggies if you prefer). Remove and cool in cold water. In a medium bowl, combine beans, red pepper, green onion, carrot, celery and red cabbage. Dress with 3/4 of the vinaigrette and refrigerate for four hours, turning ingredients a couple of times. Just before serving, add cucumber, bean sprouts, cilantro leaves and sesame seeds; fold together and adjust seasoning to taste. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over salad.

Nutritional information 
Serves eight. Per serving: 83 calories, 2 g protein, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 0 mg cholesterol, 31 mg sodium

Best Health magazine, May 2013; Photo by Maya Visynei

Kid-friendly Turkey Sausage Rolls with Mango Chutney

Kids love these simple sausage rolls. Using turkey sausage meat instead of pork sausage helps keep the fat content down
By Paul Finkelstein

1 lb (500 g) fresh turkey sausage removed from casing (or use ground turkey)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh cilantro, finely sliced
2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh mint, finely sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) cooking onion, minced
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) whole-wheat bread crumbs or oats
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
3 sheets phyllo pastry (found in the frozen food section with baked goods)
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60 mL) sweet, chunky mango chutney, jarred
24 fresh cilantro leaves, stems off (for garnish)
Phyllo is simple to work with but it can be very delicate. Air is its biggest enemy, so while you’re working with it, keep the extra sheets covered with a damp cloth until you use them. There are a variety of mango chutneys available in grocery or health food stores. I like to use one that’s a little bit spicy to add another element to the appetizer.

Preheat oven to 375°F. In medium bowl, mix together turkey meat, cilantro, mint, onion, egg whites, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Lay one sheet of phyllo lengthwise on counter with the short side facing you, and brush evenly with olive oil. Divide meat mixture into thirds and roll each third into a long sausage shape, approximately one inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and one inch shorter than the length of the phyllo sheet. Lay this along the short edge of phyllo sheet (see below). Roll phyllo up, encasing meat mixture, brushing the phyllo with olive oil while rolling. Press ends together and tuck under. When you have done all three rolls, gently transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, with phyllo edge on bottom.
Cook until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and slice each roll into eight one-inch (2.5-cm) pieces with a serrated knife. Turn each piece on its side, top with a dab of mango chutney and garnish each with a cilantro leaf.

Makes 24 pieces.

Nutritional information 
Per piece: 66 calories, 4 g protein, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates, 0 g fibre, 15 mg cholesterol, 146 mg sodium

Best Health Magazine, November/December 2009; photography by Edward Pond

Lamb, Vegetable & Beer Stew

Lamb is an excellent source of protein and high in vitamins A, B3, B6 and B12, as well as many minerals. People think it’s high in fat, but a lean cut has about the same fat as lean beef. Search out lamb from your butcher that’s lean and fresh. If you’re not a fan of lamb, stewing beef is a good substitute.
By Paul Finkelstein

500 g loin of lamb (or beef), trimmed of fat, 1 in. cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
12 whole baby carrots
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 large parsnips, peeled and cubed
2 cups (500 mL) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, puréed
3 cups (750 mL) low-sodium chicken stock
1 bottle light beer
1 cup (250 mL) canned diced tomatoes, unsalted
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs savory
Handful green beans, ends trimmed
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch

In a slow cooker or large heavy-bottomed pot, add all ingredients except for green beans and cornstarch. Stir and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to a simmer. Cook for about three hours until meat is tender and carrots are cooked. Add green beans and cook for five minutes more. Turn up stew to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup (60 mL) cold water. Add to stew and stir. The mixture will thicken stew when it comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutritional information 
Serves four. Per serving: 553 calories, 32 g protein, 17 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 69 g carbohydrates, 12 g fibre, 74 mg cholesterol, 212 mg sodium
Best Health magazine, March/April 2013; Image: Maya Visnyei

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Grilled Asian Salad

This simple salad requires very little cooking time on the grill, as the vegetables have great flavour and texture

By Paul Finkelstein

1/4 cup (60 mL) orange juice
1 tsp (5 mL) sesame seed oil
2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) orange zest
1/2 tsp (2 mL) hot sauce
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground ginger
Salt and pepper to taste

12 asparagus spears, julienned
1/4 red pepper, julienned
1/4 yellow pepper, julienned
1/4 zucchini, julienned
1/4 red onion, julienned
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
45 g tofu, firm
4 English cucumbers, seeds removed, julienned
Handful cilantro leaves
4 handfuls watercress
I chose watercress because I like its crunch and it’s widely available in the summer months. I’ve suggested tofu as a protein, but if you can find tempeh in your local grocery store or health food store, give it a try; it has a nuttier flavour.

Preheat barbecue to high.
For dressing: Place all ingredients in a bowl, whisk together, and adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
For salad: Add asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper, zucchini and red onion to medium-sized bowl.
Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
Place vegetables in a grill basket and grill until vegetables begin to soften. (Or place vege­tables on grill across grates to ensure they don’t fall through.)
Cut tofu in half to make two flat pieces. Brush on all surfaces with remaining olive oil. Grill tofu until crispy on all sides. Slice width-wise into 1/2-cm strips and add to grilled vegetables.
Add dressing, cucumber and half of the cilantro, and gently toss together.
Place equal amounts of watercress on four plates. Top with equal amounts of salad.
Sprinkle with remaining cilantro leaves.

Serves four
Nutritional information 
Per serving: 159 cal­ories, 5 g protein, 9 g fat (1 g sat­urated fat), 18 g carbohydrates, 4 g fibre, 0 mg cholesterol, 207 mg sodium
Best Health Magazine, Summer 2010; Photo by Edward Pond

Grilled Greek-Style Pizza

The arugula pesto in this recipe adds a delicious peppery taste to the pizza (make extra pesto and have it the next day with grilled fish or meat, or as a simple pasta sauce). The grilled whole-wheat pita resembles a thin oven-baked pizza crust and has a great crunch, but with less calories and fat.

4 whole-wheat pita bread,
8 in. (20 cm) in diameter
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
4 handfuls arugula
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Parmesan cheese
2 large garlic cloves, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium (226 g) skinless chicken breast, grilled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) feta cheese
20 grape tomatoes, halved
4 artichoke hearts (canned in water), quartered
20 kalamata olives, pitted and halved

The key element to Greek cooking is to use fresh ingredients. Not only do they benefit our overall health, but fresh food makes for a better-tasting meal.

Preheat barbecue to high.
Lightly brush both sides of each pita with a little bit of olive oil, and set aside.
In a blender, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, garlic and remaining olive oil to make arugula pesto. Add 2 Tbsp (30 mL) water to loosen pesto if needed. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Place pitas on preheated barbecue and grill until lightly toasted, approximately two minutes.
Turn pitas and top with equal amounts of arugula pesto, chicken, feta cheese, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives.
Grill for another two to three minutes until bottom is crispy.

Makes four pizzas.
Nutritional information 
Per pizza: 413 calories, 24 g protein, 17 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 43 g carbohydrates, 7 g fibre, 47 mg cholesterol, 895 mg sodium

Grilled Pork Chops with Apple-Almond Salsa

This fresh salsa for the grilled pork chops combines fragrant rosemary, crunchy almonds, and sweet and tart apples. This dish is easy to prepare and the unusual flavour combinations make it perfect for a dinner party.

1 cup (250 mL) green apple, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) red apple, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) red onion, diced
1/3 cup (80 mL) slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons (30 mL) champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon (5 mL) lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
8 (4-ounce) boneless centre-cut pork chops
1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil

In a medium-sized bowl, combine apples, onion, almonds, vinegar, rosemary, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook without moving for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove grilled pork chops from the pan and top with reserved apple-almond salsa.

Serves 4. 

Nutritional information Per serving:
447 calories
21 g total fat
5 g saturated fat
10.7 g monounsaturated fat
3.7 g polyunsaturated fat
13 g carbohydrate
50 g protein
143 mg cholesterol
3 g fibre
62 mg calcium
90 mg magnesium
156 mg sodium
1009 mg potassium
3 mg vitamin E

Almond Board of California

Healthy Broccoli, Cranberry & Almond Salad

I like to blanch the broccoli for this recipe to remove a bit of the crunch —just plunge the florets into boiling water—but you can use raw broccoli 
if you prefer. Usually this dish would contain mayo but I’ve used low-fat yogurt instead. Even the kids will love this salad’s sweet taste!

By Paul Finkelstein

4 cups (1 L) broccoli florets, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (60 mL) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (60 mL) walnut pieces
1/4 cup (60 mL) sliced almonds
1 Granny Smith apple, grated
1/4 cup (60 mL) sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp (30 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp (30 mL) honey
2 Tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste
Blanch broccoli florets in boiling water for two to three minutes, if desired. Rinse in cold water and strain till dry. Transfer to a medium bowl. To the broccoli, add onions, dried cranberries, walnuts, almonds, apple and sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, combine yogurt, honey and lemon juice. Fold dressing into salad and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutritional information 
Serves eight. 
Per serving: 129 calories, 4 g protein, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fibre, 0 mg cholesterol, 31 mg sodium

Best Health magazine, December 2012; Photo by Maya Visnyei

Hot and Spicy Black Bean Dip

Update your party menu with a chili-laced black bean dip that’s practically fat-free and an excellent source of fibre. The dip can also be spooned onto plates and served as a light lunch, accompanied by warm whole-wheat pita bread.

Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 can (540 ml) black beans, rinsed and drained (see the variation if using dried beans)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2⁄3 cup chopped fresh coriander
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 pickled jalapeño chili peppers, finely chopped

In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook the garlic for 2 minutes to blanch. Drain and transfer the garlic to a large bowl. Add the beans and mash with a potato masher.
Stir in the vinegar, lemon juice and cumin until the ingredients are well combined.
Fold in the coriander, green onions and jalapeño chili peppers and serve. (This recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring the dip to room temperature before serving.)
Hot and spicy black bean dip variations: This recipe is ideal for doubling or tripling. You’ll need a really big mixing bowl, but if you don’t have one, you can stir it up in batches. • If you have time, cook dried black beans from scratch (use 11⁄4 cups dried beans for a single batch of the dip). Soak the beans overnight in water to cover, drain off the soaking water, then cover with fresh water and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender. Prepare the dip.

preparation time 15 mins
cooking time 5 mins
serves 8 

Nutritional information 
52 calories
3 g protein
0.4 g total fat
0.1 g saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
9 g total carbohydrate
1 g sugars
3 g fibre
23 mg sodium
No oil, no sour cream, no cream cheese—there’s simply no added fat in this black bean dip, and the powerful seasonings mean that you’ll never miss it. Canned beans are a handy pantry staple. They are an excellent and inexpensive source of protein and fibre, and contain little fat.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fruity Pasta Salad

Pineapple and pear give this fruity pasta salad a sweet accent, while balsamic vinegar adds a delightful piquancy. With lean ham, cheese, fruit and vegetables all adding their own nutrients to balance the pasta, the result is a marvellous dish.

50 g fine green beans
125 g lean cooked ham
1 pear
350 g mixed coloured pasta shapes
75 g 25% reduced-fat mature Cheddar cheese, grated
100 g peeled fresh pineapple, diced
1⁄2 small onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1⁄2 teaspoon chopped pickled gherkin, or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar, or to taste
juice of 1⁄4 lemon, or to taste
pepper to taste
cayenne pepper (optional)
120 g mixed salad greens, such as arugula, watercress or baby spinach
1 tablespoon sunflower oil (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons dried cranberries (optional)

Top and tail the green beans. Dice the ham or cut it into fine strips, if you prefer. Peel, core and dice the pear.
Cook the mixed pasta shapes in boiling water for approximately 10–12 minutes, or according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta in cold water, then drain again.
Cook the beans in boiling water for about 3 minutes or until bright green and just tender, but still crisp. Drain and rinse under cold water, then drain again. Set aside.
Combine the cooked pasta with the Cheddar cheese, ham, pear, pineapple, onion, mayonnaise, yogurt, gherkin (if using) and sugar. Add a little extra gherkin or sugar, if desired. Mix together well, then adjust the flavour of the dressing with lemon juice, pepper and cayenne pepper, if using.
Dress the mixed salad greens with the sunflower oil (if using), the balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Divide the dressed leaves among 4 plates and top with the fruity pasta salad.
Arrange the green beans, walnuts and dried cranberries (if using) around the salad and serve immediately.

Fruity pasta salad variations: Omit the gherkin and instead season the pasta with a sprinkling of curry powder, stirring it in well. • Sprinkle with cashews instead of walnuts. • Low-fat mayonnaise can be used instead of the traditional type, for extra heart health. • Use 1 can (540 ml) chickpeas, well drained, instead of the ham. • Use 3 slices canned pineapple in natural juice, drained and diced, instead of fresh pineapple.

preparation time 20 mins
cooking time 15 mins
serves 4 

Nutritional information 
479 calories
22 g protein
15 g total fat
4 g saturated fat
35 mg cholesterol
64 g total carbohydrate
12 g sugars
6 g fibre
766 mg sodium

Cheese is a good source of protein and a valuable source of calcium, phosphorus, niacin and vitamin B12. Using a strongly flavoured cheese, such as mature Cheddar, means that less is required for flavour in the dish, thus keeping the total fat content down.

Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Grapefruit-Glazed Bran Muffins

Grab one of these wholesome muffins for a heart-healthy start to your day 

188 g (1 ½ cups) whole wheat flour
5 mL (1 tsp) baking powder
2 mL (½ tsp) baking soda
1 mL (¼ tsp) ground cloves
75 mL (1/3 cup) soft non hydrogenated margarine
150 g (3/4 cup) packed brown sugar
1 egg
375 mL (1 ½ cups) natural bran
250 mL (1 cup) 100 % pure Florida grapefruit juice

25 mL (2 tbsp) 100 % pure Florida grapefruit juice
15 mL (1 tbsp) liquid honey

*Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
1. In a bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, soda and cloves; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, using electric mixer beat together margarine and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Add bran and grapefruit juice and stir to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined. Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin tins and bake in 190°C (375°F) oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.
3. Glaze: In a small bowl, stir together grapefruit juice and honey. Brush mixture on tops of warm muffins and let cool slightly before serving. Makes 12 muffins

Nutritional information 
(1 muffin)

Calories: 185
Protein: 4 g
Total fat: 6 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 16 mg
Carbohydrate: 33 g
Fibre: 5 g
Sugars: 17 g
Sodium: 122 mg
Potassium: 247 mg

Recipe provided courtesy of the Florida Department of Citrus.

Greek Meatballs with Lemon Dip

These little meatballs, made from a mixture of ground lamb and rice, and flavoured with thyme, lemon and nutmeg, are grilled on wooden skewers for easy eating. The classic Greek egg and lemon dipping sauce served alongside has a tangy flavour, which is a perfect complement for the meatballs. 

2 small red onions
1 lb (500 g) ground lean lamb
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) cooked white rice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) freshly grated nutmeg
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 24 small squares
Olive oil for brushing
Salt and pepper

1 1⁄2 tsp (7 mL) arrowroot
Juice of 2 small lemons
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 small egg
2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme

Salt and pepper
Brushing the kebabs lightly with olive oil before grilling ensures that the meat stays moist and eliminates the need for adding oil to the pan to prevent sticking.

• Arrowroot is made from a tropical tuber. Unlike cornstarch, it does not impart a starchy taste in a sauce if undercooked. It also becomes completely clear when cooked and has twice as much thickening power as flour.

Soak 24 long wooden skewers in warm water for about 10 minutes, then drain. Preheat the grill or oven broiler to medium.
Cut each red onion into 12 thin wedges, keeping them still attached at the root end.
Combine the lamb, finely chopped onion, cooked rice, garlic, thyme, nutmeg and lemon zest in a bowl, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Mix well using your hands. Shape the meat mixture into 24 small balls.
Thread 1 meatball, 1 piece of pepper and 1 onion wedge onto each skewer. Arrange in one layer on grill rack or broiler pan. (The kebabs can be prepared 3 to 4 hours ahead and then kept in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap.) Brush lightly with oil and grill for 15 to 18 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.
Meanwhile, make the dip. Mix the arrowroot with about half of the lemon juice, then stir in the rest of the juice. Heat the broth in a small saucepan until boiling, then stir in the arrowroot and lemon juice mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat.
In a bowl, beat the egg lightly. Slowly pour in the hot broth mixture in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and whisk over a low heat for about 4 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thick. Do not boil or the egg may curdle. Stir in the chopped thyme, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Serve the meatball skewers with the hot lemon sauce
Preparation time 25 minutes 
Cooking time 20–25 minutes 
Makes 24 kebabs 

Nutritional information 
Each serving (two kebabs) provides: calories 88, calories from fat 27, fat 3 g, saturated fat 1 g, cholesterol 43 mg, 
carbohydrate 6 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 2 g, protein 9 g.

Choices per serving: Meat and Alternatives 1, Extra 1
Eat to Beat Diabetes, Reader's Digest

Greek Spinach and Feta Pie

A deliciously light, crunchy, layered phyllo pastry bake, with a filling of spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts - a classic Greek combination.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200 grams (7 oz) frozen spinach
3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped and drained
1⁄2 cup ricotta cheese
100 grams (3 1⁄2 oz) feta cheese, drained
1⁄4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Pinch of grated nutmeg
6 sheets phyllo pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan, then add the onion and garlic. Cook gently on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until softened. Add the spinach and tomatoes and continue cooking for about 6 minutes. Tip into a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
2. Stir the ricotta and feta cheeses into the spinach mixture together with the pine nuts and season to taste with a little salt and pepper and the nutmeg.
3. Lightly oil a shallow baking dish measuring about 28 x 20 cm. Use two of the phyllo sheets to line the base and sides of the dish, overlapping if necessary. Leave the excess pastry to hang over the edges of the dish. Cover with half of the spinach mixture, spreading it out to the edges in an even layer. Cover with two more sheets of phyllo, then another layer of the spinach.
4. Fold the excess phyllo in over the top, then place the remaining two phyllo sheets on top, folding the edges under neatly. Brush the top lightly with the remaining oil and bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.
Tip: The filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept chilled. When ready to serve, bring the mixture to room temperature, then complete the recipe.Variation• For a non-vegetarian pie, add 150 grams (5 oz) chopped bacon with the onion in step 1 and cook for 10 minutes. Continue with the recipe, omitting the feta cheese and adding 1⁄3 cup grated Parmesan cheese instead.

Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Per serving: 247 calories, 16.5 g fat (5.5 g saturated), 10.5 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fibre

Greek stifado

A tempting beef casserole - with artichoke hearts, fava beans, new potatoes and juicy, purple-skinned kalamata olives - that is ideal for a family Sunday lunch or easy entertaining, and needs only a green salad alongside.

300 grams (10 oz) pickling onions or shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
500 grams (1 lb) lean stewing beef, cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
398 ml can chopped tomatoes
1 2⁄3 cups red wine1 bay leaf
350 grams (12 oz) new potatoes
398 ml can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1 1⁄4 cups frozen fava beans, thawed
1⁄3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped

1.Cut the ends from the onions or shallots and place in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and allow to stand for about 2 minutes to loosen the skins.
2.Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the beef and brown evenly, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes.
3.Meanwhile, slip the skins from the onions or shallots. Add the peeled onions or shallots to the casserole dish to brown lightly, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic with the ground spices.
4.Pour in the tomatoes with their juice, and the red wine and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to low, cover the casserole dish and simmer gently for 1 hour.
5.Stir the potatoes into the casserole and continue to simmer for a further 30 minutes, covered, until the meat and potatoes are tender. Add the artichoke hearts, beans and olives and cook for a final 5 minutes to heat through. Season to taste.
Cook’s tips• You can make the whole stew up to 3 days ahead, just leaving out the artichoke hearts, beans and olives. Allow to cool, then cover and keep in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, allow to come to room temperature, then add the remaining ingredients and reheat gently over a low heat until bubbling hot.• If more convenient, cook the casserole slowly in an oven preheated to 350°F (180°C).
Variation• You can replace the artichoke hearts and olives with 200 grams (7 oz) button mushrooms added with the potatoes.

Serves 4
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time about 1 3⁄4 hours

Nutritional information 
Each serving
35 g protein • 12 g fat of which 3.5 g saturates • 24 g carbohydrate • 8 g fibre • 427 Calories

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Curried Devilled Eggs

The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel the shell off once it’s hard-boiled, so use eggs that are at least five days old. When slicing the eggs in half, wet the knife to help ensure a clean cut through the yolk.

4 large eggs, hard-boiled
1-1/4 Tbsp (19 mL) low-fat mayonnaise
1 green onion, finely sliced
Big pinch curry powder
Small pinch ground ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Small pinch cayenne pepper
8 cilantro sprigs

Cool eggs thoroughly. Peel off shells; gently slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a small mixing bowl and set whites aside. To yolks, add mayonnaise, green onion, curry powder, ginger and lime juice. Mash together with a fork until smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully spoon equal amounts of yolk mixture into egg white cavities. Sprinkle tops of filled eggs with cayenne and garnish with a cilantro sprig.

Nutritional information 
Makes eight. Per devilled egg half: 43 calories, 3 g protein, 3 g fat (1 g sat­urated fat), 1 g carbohy­drates, 0 g fibre, 106 mg cholesterol, 39 mg sodium

Best Health magazine, May 2013; Photo by Maya Visynei 

Dark and Gloomy Blueberry Smoothie

This smoothie is not only rich in flavour, it’s rich in goodness! This gloomy colour smoothie, perfect for a spooky Halloween breakfast, is packed with blueberries, bananas, milk and a handful of spinach. Halloween, after all, is all about disguises!

1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) loosely packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup (250 mL) frozen blueberries
1 banana, peeled

Pinch ground cardamom or nutmeg
1 tbsp (15 mL) pure maple syrup, or to taste
In a blender, combine milk, spinach, blueberries, banana, cardamom and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add more maple syrup, if desired. Serve immediately.

Cooking Tips: Feel free to use frozen over-ripe bananas for this recipe. They lend the perfect sweetness and iciness to a smoothie.

Maple syrup can be replaced with other sweeteners, such as honey or agave syrup.

Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes 
Yield: 3-1/2 cups (875 mL), 2 to 3 servings

Nutritional information 
Per serving (1/3 of recipe): 144 calories, 5 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2.8 g fibre, 67 mg sodium
Dairy Farmers of Canada

Dim Sum with Dipping Sauce

These Chinese dumplings have a chicken filling, which is lighter than the traditional pork mixture. Wonton wrappers, sold in most supermarkets, can be used. Serve these dim sum with dipping sauce as the starter for a multi-course Chinese meal.

Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

1 can (199 ml) water chestnuts, drained and chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 tablespoon reduced-salt soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
350 g ground chicken
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
30 g fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus extra for dusting
cayenne pepper to taste
48 wonton wrappers
150 g bok choy

Dipping Sauce
hoisin sauce, chopped green onions, chopped fresh coriander, reduced-salt soy sauce and/or sesame oil
Mix together the water chestnuts, green onions, coriander, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the chicken, sugar, ginger, garlic and mushrooms. Stir in the cornstarch and the cayenne pepper and mix well. Cook a small spoonful of the chicken mixture in a frying pan, then taste it to check the seasoning.
Dust a plate with cornstarch. Place about 1 teaspoon of filling on the middle of a wonton wrapper. Dampen the wrapper slightly just around the filling. Gather up the wrapper, pinching it around the filling to form a cup, open at the top and with “frilly” edges. Set aside on the plate, and fill the remaining wrappers.
Line a multi-layered steamer with the bok choy or spinach. Stand the dim sum on the leaves and steam over rapidly boiling water for about 8–10 minutes. Serve the dim sum hot with the bok choy, and with the ingredients for the dipping sauce in individual bowls so that diners can mix them together to make a sauce to their own taste.

preparation time 45 mins
cooking time 50 mins
serves 6 

Nutritional information 
340 calories
18 g protein
13 g total fat
3 g saturated fat
47 mg cholesterol
38 g total carbohydrate
5 g sugars
3 g fibre
503 mg sodium

Garlic, onions, leeks and chives contain allicin, which has antifungal and antibiotic properties. Garlic also contains other compounds that have been shown in animal studies to inactivate carcinogens and suppress the growth of tumours.

Dr. Merrell’s Morning Shake

Start your day right with this healthy, fruity morning shake.

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) mixed frozen berries (or fresh cut pineapple or papaya*)
1 cup (250 mL) pineapple juice (or pomegranate or cherry juice)
1/2 cup (250 mL) water
3/4 cup (175 mL) unsweetened soy milk or rice milk (for soy allergies use whey or organic brown rice protein powder**)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or turmeric)
1 heaping tablespoon flax meal
1 teaspoon flax oil
1 tablespoon probiotic powder or liquid***

* Can cut pineapple or papaya ahead of time and store in airtight container or bag in fridge for up to three days.
** Combine 2 heaping tablespoons of powder with 1/2 cup water (use instead of soy milk).
*** Make sure it contains, at least, acidophilus and bifidophilus. Available in refrigerator section of most health food stores.
Combine all morning shake ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

Serves: 2 

Nutritional information 193 calories
5.2 g total fat
0.6 g saturated fat
0.0 mg cholesterol
1.1 g monounsaturated fat
3.5 g polyunsaturated fat
33.3 g total carbohydrate
21.3 g sugars
4.1 dietary fibre
4.6 g protein
51.0 mg sodium

The Source by Woodson Merrell

Fresh Berry-Yogurt Pops

This recipe is delicious prepared with any seasonal fruit; these pops use raspberries and strawberries.

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) low-fat plain yogurt
2 tsp (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (125 mL) apple juice
1 cup (250 mL) fresh strawberries and raspberries, divided
In a blender, whirl yogurt, lemon juice, apple juice and 1/2 cup of berries until smooth. Divide mixture among eight pop moulds. Slice remaining straw­berries (leave raspberries whole) and divide them equally among the filled moulds, pushing each berry down inside mixture with a knife. Freeze pops overnight.

Tip: Freezing berries while in season allows you to make this delicious yogurt treat year-round. To freeze fresh berries, wash them, pat dry, lay them out on a sheet pan and put them in the freezer overnight. Then bag them in airtight sandwich bags and store in the freezer. To remove frozen yogurt pops from the moulds, run warm water over sides of the moulds.

Nutritional information 
Makes eight pops. Per pop: 44 calories, 3 protein, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 3 mg cholesterol, 33 mg sodium

Best Health magazine, Summer 2013; Photo by Maya Visynei

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Chinese Chicken & Corn Soup

This soup can be spiced up with a sprinkle of cumin or paprika, or you can swap the chicken for fresh crabmeat.
By Michele Cranston

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
4 green onions, finely sliced
11/2 tsp (7 mL) grated ginger
2 Tbsp (30 mL) rice wine or sherry
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
1 chicken breast fillet, finely diced
2 cups (500 mL) corn kernels
11/2 tsp (7 mL) cornstarch
1 handful coriander, roughly chopped
1 large red chili, seeded and finely chopped

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add green onions and ginger, and stir-fry for a minute. Add rice wine and stir for one more minute, then add stock. Add diced chicken and corn. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 3 Tbsp (45 mL) of cold water and stir until smooth. Pour paste into soup mixture and stir for a minute, until slightly thick. Divide soup equally among four bowls, and garnish with coriander and chili.

Nutritional information 
Serves four.
Per serving: 252 calories, 13 g protein, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrates, 3 g fibre, 17 mg cholesterol, 362 mg sodium

Best Health Magazine, November 2012; Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

This whole-wheat bread loaf studded with raisins tastes good plain or with a little light butter or margarine spread on it. It’s also wonderful toasted for breakfast, when the gentle aroma of warm cinnamon makes a soothing start to the day.

5 cups (1.25 L) whole-wheat flour [625 g]
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cinnamon
1 package instant dry yeast
2/3 cup (150 mL) raisins
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) unsalted butter
1 cup (250 mL) skim milk,
plus 1 tbsp (15 mL) to glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten

Instant dry yeast can be combined with the dry ingredients and added directly into a bread recipe to avoid having to dissolve the yeast in warm milk or water and let it stand for 5 minutes prior to use.
• When cooking for a person with diabetes, use whole grains and complex carbohydrates whenever possible. Whole-wheat flour can be substituted for at least half the white flour in almost all recipes to increase the fibre, vitamin, and mineral content of a baked good.

Lightly coat a 9-in. x 5-in. (2 L) loaf pan with cooking spray and flour. Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast, raisins and sugar, and make a well in the centre.
Gently heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan until the butter has melted and the mixture is just warm. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg. Mix together to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a loaf and place in the prepared pan. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Uncover the loaf and brush with the milk to glaze. Bake until it sounds hollow when removed from the pan and tapped on the bottom, about 30 minutes. Cover the loaf with foil toward the end of the cooking time if the top is browning too much.
Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool. The bread can be kept, wrapped in foil, for 2 to 3 days.
Preparation time 20 minutes, plus 1 hour rising; cooking time 30 minutes

Makes 1 large loaf (cuts into 16 slices)

• Cinnamon-raisin-walnut bread: Add 1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped walnuts to the flour mixture before adding the liquid ingredients.
• Any type of dried fruit can be substituted for the raisins. Try adding 2/3 cup (150 mL) dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries or chopped dried apricots in place of the raisins.
• Cinnamon-raisin rolls: instead of forming the dough into a loaf after the first rising, divide it into 2-oz (60 g) pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a towel and allow to rise according to the recipe. Bake the rolls on the same sheet pan until they sound hollow.

Nutritional information 
Each serving (one slice) provides: calories 198, calories from fat 27, fat 3 g, saturated fat 1 g, cholesterol 19 mg, carbohydrate 38 g, fibre 6 g, sugars 8 g, protein 7 g.
Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 2, fat 1

Excerpted from Eat to Beat Diabetes, available now in the Best Health Store

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Cake Batter:

3 cups (750 mL) cake flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
3/4 tsp (3 mL) baking soda
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
1 1/3 cups (330 mL) SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
1 egg
1/4 cup (60 mL) egg substitute
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) light sour cream


3 tbsp (45 mL) brown sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cinnamon

Cake Batter:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray a 10-inch (25 cm) tube pan (angel food pan) or nonstick bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and soda into a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add SPLENDA® Granulated and egg. Beat until smooth. Add the egg substitute and vanilla. Beat briefly to incorporate. Add applesauce and half of the sour cream and beat until smooth. Add the sifted flour mixture and beat at medium speed just until smooth. Add remaining sour cream and blend just until incorporated and batter is uniform. Set aside.


Place 1/4 of cake batter in a small bowl. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir well.

Place 1/2 of the remaining cake batter into prepared pan. Top with filling. Swirl with knife. Top with remaining batter.

Bake in preheated 350°F (180°C) oven 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Nutritional information 
Amount per Serving
Serving Size: 1 slice
Total Calories: 200
Calories from Fat: 72
Total Fat: 8 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Sodium: 180 mg
Total Carbohydrates: 28 g
Fibre: 1 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 4 g

Crunchy Nut Coleslaw

This fresh-tasting crunchy nut coleslaw is made with white cabbage, carrot and radishes, flecked with green onions, sultanas and peanuts.

200 g white cabbage, finely shredded
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
1⁄3 cup sultanas
4 green onions, finely chopped, with the white and green parts kept separate
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
150 g plain low-fat yogurt
pepper to taste
30 g radishes, sliced
1⁄3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons chopped parsley or snipped fresh chives, or a mixture of the two (optional)

Mix together the cabbage, carrot, sultanas and white parts of the green onions in a large bowl.
Stir the mayonnaise and yogurt together and season with pepper. Stir this dressing into the cabbage mixture and toss well to coat all the ingredients.
Just before serving, stir in the radishes and peanuts and sprinkle with the chopped green parts of the green onions and the parsley or chives, if using.
Crunchy nut coleslaw variations: For a celeriac coleslaw, use 250 g peeled celeriac cut into matchstick strips, instead of white cabbage. Flavour the yogurt and mayonnaise dressing with 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard, or 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon mango chutney.

preparation time 10 mins
serves 4 (as a starter) or 2 (as a main dish) 

Nutritional information 
166 calories
7 g protein
7 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
2 mg cholesterol
20 g total carbohydrate
18 g sugars
5 g fibre
165 mg sodium

Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Crunchy Vanilla Walnuts

A source of omega-3s and B vitamins, these walnuts are a delicious holiday snack.

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon Spice Island® Pure Vanilla Extract

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the walnuts, oil and vanilla. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat.
Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. foil-lined baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 13 servings (just over 4 cups). Prep: 10 min. Bake: 35 min. 

Nutritional information 
1/3 cup equals 243 calories, 22 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 46 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, 2 g fibre, 5 g protein.

Taste of Home Magazine, December/January 2011

Friday, May 26, 2017

Cappuccino Chiffon Cake

When chiffon cakes first appeared in the 1940s, the focus was on how easy they were to mix. Today, however, we also value the fact that they are sweet treats (such as this cappuccino chiffon cake) which are lower in fat and cholesterol than most.

2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 cup walnut oil or extra-light olive oil
2 large eggs, separated, plus 4 large egg whites
3⁄4 cup brewed espresso coffee, at room temperature
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted, to dust

Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160°C). Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix. Place the oil, 2 egg yolks, coffee, cocoa powder and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture with a large metal spoon.
Place the 6 egg whites in another bowl and beat with clean beaters until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the cake mixture.
Spoon the mixture into an ungreased 25 cm (10 in.) ring pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Leaving the cappuccino chiffon cake in the pan, invert it and place over the neck of a bottle to cool completely. (Cooling the cake in the pan the right way up will cause it to sink.) Run a knife around the chiffon cake to loosen it. Turn it out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar.

preparation time 15 mins
cooking time 45 mins
makes 16 slices 

Nutritional information 
228 calories
4 g protein
8 g total fat
1 g saturated fat
31 mg cholesterol
36 g total carbohydrate
21 g sugars
1 g fibre
171 mg sodium

Walnut oil is a rich source of heart-friendly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and the antioxidant vitamin E. It may help lower the risk of heart disease by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol.

Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Caprese Salad Baguettes

I love mozzarella cheese with this sandwich, but other cheeses also work well. For example, try sprinkling on some feta and a bit of oregano for a Greek flavour. 

1 large red pepper
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
1 Tbsp (15 mL) balsamic vinegar
1 large whole-wheat baguette, sliced lengthwise
Handful arugula
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
Handful fresh basil, sliced
¼ red onion, thinly sliced

Half a fresh low-fat large mozzarella ball, sliced into 6 pieces
Preheat barbecue to high. Brush whole red pepper with a little olive oil and grill, rotating regularly until skin pulls away, approximately five minutes. Remove from grill and let cool, then slip off skin and discard seeds. Slice into six strips. Combine 2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil with garlic and balsamic vinegar, and brush onto the cut side of each baguette half. Place on barbecue cut side down and grill until toasted, then remove. Place arugula, tomatoes, basil, onions, mozzarella and peppers on one side of toasted baguette and top with the remaining half. Slice whole baguette in four, and place one sandwich on each of four plates. If you like, serve with a side salad of mixed greens.

Nutritional information 
Serves four. Per serving: 377 calories, 16 g protein, 16 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 43 g carbohydrates, 3 g fibre, 18 mg cholesterol, 596 mg sodium

Best Health Magazine, Summer 2012; Photo by Maya Visnyei

Caramelized Onion Tartlets

The shells for these tartlets are made by pressing pieces of bread into muffin tins. The shells are brushed lightly with melted butter and baked until crisp. They are then filled with a mixture of onions and sun-dried tomatoes. Both the shells and the filling can be prepared ahead, then warmed and assembled for serving.

Cooking spray
1 tbsp (15 mL) melted butter
12 thin slices white bread
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
12 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and roughly chopped
2 tsp (10 mL) finely chopped fresh thyme
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) toasted walnut pieces
Salt and pepper

• Eating walnuts in moderation but on a regular basis may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and guard against heart disease and cancer. This is because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin E, selenium and other antioxidants.

• Traditionally, the shells for mini-tartlets are made from pie dough prepared with a high percentage of shortening or butter. In this recipe, the bread “shells” are brushed with just a small amount of butter and baked to get a similar result with a lot less fat.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Using a 3-in. (7.5-cm) pastry cutter, cut a disc from each slice of bread. Flatten each bread disc with a rolling pin, then press into the muffin cups to line them evenly, curving the edge of the bread slightly to make large scallop shapes.
Brush the bread cases with the melted butter and bake until crisp and golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside in a warm place until ready to fill. (If made ahead, keep the bread cases in an airtight container.)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onions and stir well. Cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes or until the onions are very soft.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat and cook rapidly, stirring, until the onions turn a dark golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and thyme. Season lightly with salt and pepper. (If made ahead, cool the filling and keep in the fridge, then reheat just before filling the bread cases.)
Divide the onion filling among the bread cases, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top. Serve hot.

Preparation time 20 minutes 
Cooking time 35 minutes 
Serves 12

Nutritional information 
Each serving (one tart) provides: calories 83, calories from fat 45, fat 5 g, saturated fat 1 g, cholesterol 3 mg,
carbohydrate 8 g, fibre 1 g, sugars 3 g, protein 2 g
Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 1⁄2, Fat 1

Eat to Beat Diabetes, Reader's Digest

Chicken and Spinach Roulades

Fresh spinach, roasted red pepper, ricotta and a touch of Parmesan together make a fantastic filling for tender chicken roulades. Braised in stock and vermouth and served with asparagus, chicken and spinach roulades make an elegant, attractive dish.

600 g chicken breasts
150 g spinach leaves
1 small red pepper, seeded and quartered
150 g reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pepper to taste
2⁄3 cup dry vermouth
2⁄3 cup reduced-salt chicken stock
5 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
250 g thin asparagus spears to serve

Roll out the chicken with a rolling pin into rough squares about 5 mm thick. Set aside.
Place the spinach in a large pan, with just the water remaining from washing. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until wilted. Drain well, squeezing out all the excess liquid, then chop the spinach finely and place in a large bowl.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the red pepper quarters, skin side up, until the skin is charred. Transfer to a plastic bag and seal. When cool enough to handle, peel and dice.
Add the red pepper to the spinach together with the ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, basil and nutmeg. Season with pepper. Mix well. Divide the filling among the chicken slices, spreading it over them evenly. Roll up each one, folding in the sides to enclose the filling, and secure with wooden cocktail sticks or skewers. Place the roulades in a frying pan and pour over the vermouth and stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken and spinach roulades from the pan and keep hot. Bring the liquid back to a boil and boil until reduced. Stir in the sour cream and boil for a further 1–2 minutes or until thickened.
While the liquid is reducing, cook the asparagus spears in boiling water for 2–3 minutes or until just tender. Drain, refresh with cold water and keep warm.
Remove and discard the cocktail sticks from the chicken and spinach roulades, then cut into neat slices. Serve garnished with the asparagus spears and with the sauce drizzled around.

preparation time 30 mins
cooking time 35 mins
serves 4 

Nutritional information 
426 calories
42 g protein
21 g total fat
10 g saturated fat
191 mg cholesterol
7 g total carbohydrate
5 g sugars
3 g fibre
345 mg sodium

Asparagus is a rich source of many of the B vitamins, especially folate. New research suggests that folate may have a role in helping to protect against heart disease. 
Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Chicken Salad in Endive Boats

Endive is also labelled Belgian endive by some grocers. The smaller leaves on the inside are best for this recipe. Be sure to fill leaves just before serving, as they will brown.

1 cup (250 mL) cooked chicken breast, chopped in small cubes
1/2 cup (125 mL) green seedless grapes, quartered
1/4 cup (60 mL) sliced almonds
1/4 cup (60 mL) red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) 1% plain yogurt
1 Tbsp (15 mL) dill, finely chopped
8 endive leaves, washed and dried

In a medium bowl, fold together diced chicken breast, grapes, sliced almond, red onion, yogurt and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon equal amounts of chicken mixture into each of eight endive leaves. If you like, garnish each with a sprig of dill.

Nutritional information 
Makes eight. Per serving: 56 calories, 6 g protein, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fibre, 15 mg cholesterol, 16 mg sodium

Best Health magazine, May 2013; Photo by Maya Visynei

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Beef in Red Wine and Brandy

Long, slow cooking gives this traditional beef casserole its inimitable flavour. The cooking liquid is reduced simply by removing the casserole lid, resulting in a wonderfully aromatic red wine and brandy sauce that glazes the beef and vegetables.

500 g lean stewing beef
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
250 g baby carrots
250 g baby parsnips
250 g button mushrooms
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
pepper to taste
200 g shelled fresh broad beans or frozen broad beans, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 tablespoons brandy

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150ºC). Dice the beef 1 cm thick.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Add the sliced onion and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown.
Add the stewing beef to the casserole dish and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pieces of beef are browned on all sides. Stir in the baby carrots and parsnips, the button mushrooms and the garlic.
Pour in the red wine, then stir in the orange rind and juice, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and season with pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the casserole for 1 1⁄4 hours.
Remove the lid of the pan and cook the casserole for a further 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the broad beans and cook, uncovered, for another 30 minutes, again stirring once or twice.
Taste and add pepper if necessary, and stir in the chopped parsley. Warm the brandy in a small saucepan and pour it over the casserole. Immediately set the brandy alight and carry the casserole to the table still flaming.
Beef in red wine and brandy variations: You can vary the vegetables in this recipe. Small broccoli florets or shelled fresh or frozen peas can be added instead of the broad beans. Also, large carrots and parsnips, cut into equal-sized chunks, are more economical for an everyday stew than baby vegetables. • Flaming the casserole with brandy is completely optional. • For an everyday version, you might prefer to use 3 cups reduced-salt beef stock or light ale instead of the wine.
preparation time 20 mins
cooking time 2 1⁄2 hours
serves 4

Nutritional information 
538 calories
52 g protein
21 g total fat
6 g saturated fat
94 mg cholesterol
19 g total carbohydrate
11 g sugars
9 g fibre
140 mg sodium
Robust broad beans go well with beef and they bring valuable dietary fibre to the dish. Research shows that, in moderation, red wine consumption may help protect the body against certain cancers and heart disease, and can reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Beet and Tarragon Fusilli

Yes, this dinner is pink! And I’m sure you’ll agree that the flavours of beets, horseradish and tarragon are a natural marriage—but the leek and Swiss chard take this dish to a whole other level.

1/3 cup (75 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small leek (the white part only), thinly sliced
2 stalks Swiss chard, with leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) beets, boiled and diced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) bottled horseradish
2 Tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) cooked fusilli (corkscrew) pasta
1/2 cup (125 mL) low-fat ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh tarragon, chopped (if using dried, use half the amount)

In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of olive oil. Add leek and Swiss chard, and sauté till tender. Add beets, remaining olive oil, horseradish and red wine vinegar, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
To this mixture, add pasta, low-fat ricotta and tarragon. Gently fold together. Season with salt and pepper. Serves two.

Best Health Magazine, November/December 2008; photography by Edward Pond

Black-Currant Tea Bread

Tart black currants make an enticing tea bread that is fruity without being too sweet, while mint adds a fresh, herbal note. Orange juice is used to enhance the flavour of the bread and decrease the amount of sugar needed in the recipe. If you have extra black currants, make a few loaves of bread and freeze them for up to 2 months.

Cooking spray
3 cups (750 mL) self-rising flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
3 tbsp (45 mL) light margarine
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) sugar
5 oz (150 g) fresh black currants
3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh mint, chopped
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) orange juice

Black currants are an excellent source of vitamin C—gram for gram, they contain 3 times as much vitamin C as oranges. They also provide useful amounts of potassium, and are rich in a group of phytochemicals called flavonoids, which may help to protect against heart disease.

• The oils menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate, responsible for the characteristic flavour of mint, are believed to have powerful antiseptic properties.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Coat a 9 x 5-in. (2 L) loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then cut in the margarine with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
Place the black currants and mint in the well and pour in the orange juice. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the liquid until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until loaf is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour. If the loaf looks as though it is browning too much after about 45 minutes, place a piece of foil loosely over the top.
Allow the tea bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. The tea bread is best left overnight before serving, and can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Preparation time 15 minutes 
Cooking time about 1 hour 
Makes 1 large loaf (14 slices)

Nutritional information 
Each serving (one slice) provides: calories 135, calories from fat 9, fat 1 g, saturated fat 0 g, cholesterol 0 mg,
carbohydrate 28 g, fibre 2 g, sugars 7 g, protein 3 g.
Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 2

Blueberry Cheesecake

Compared with most cheesecakes, this version of blueberry cheesecake isn’t particularly high in fat, as it uses low-fat cottage cheese instead of the traditional cream cheese, and is lightened by folding in whisked egg whites before baking.

120 g wheat bran cookies
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons reduced-salt margarine, melted
1 2⁄3 cups low-fat cottage cheese
5 tablespoons reduced-fat ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
140 g blueberries
60 g blueberries, to decorate
fresh mint leaves, to decorate
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sifted, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the bottom of a 20 cm (8 in.) springform cake pan with parchment paper.
Place the cookies in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Tip into a bowl, add the oats and margarine, and mix.
Spread this mixture evenly over the bottom and just up the sides of the prepared pan, pressing down firmly, and set aside.
Place the cottage cheese in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add the ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 2 egg yolks, cornstarch and lemon rind. Blend briefly until evenly mixed. Tip the mixture into a bowl.
Beat the 2 egg whites with an electric mixer in another bowl to form soft peaks. Slowly add the icing sugar and beat until thick and glossy. Gently fold half the egg whites into the cheese mixture. Fold in the blueberries, then the remaining whites.
Pour the mixture over the base and bake for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and reduce the heat to 325ºF (160ºC). Bake for a further hour or until the cheesecake feels just set in the centre. Turn off the oven and leave the blueberry cheesecake inside to cool for 30 minutes, with the door slightly ajar.
Transfer the blueberry cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely, then chill until ready to serve. Remove it from the pan, peel off the lining paper and place it on a serving plate. Decorate with blueberries and a few mint leaves, and dust with icing sugar.

preparation time 25 mins
cooking time 1 1⁄2 hours
serves 8 

Nutritional information 
294 calories
14 g protein
13 g total fat
4 g saturated fat
94 mg cholesterol
33 g total carbohydrate
23 g sugars
2 g fibre
199 mg sodium
Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C and, like cranberries, they contain compounds that have been shown to inhibit the bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections. Studies have suggested that these compounds may also help to protect against cataracts and glaucoma.

Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader's Digest Canada

Blueberry Crumb Bread

Yeast pastry:
3 cups (450 g) flour
2 packages of active dried yeast (approximately 2 tablespoons)
⅓ cup (80 g) sugar
¾ cup (200 ml) milk
2 eggs
¼ cup (60 g) soft butter

Marzipan topping:
½ cup (100 g) marzipan paste, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup (80 g) soft butter
6 cups (500 g) frozen wild blueberries

1 cup (150 g) flour
⅓ cup (80 g) sugar
⅓ cup (80 g) butter, melted

Flour for dusting
Yeast Pastry
Marzipan Topping
6 cups (500g) frozen wild blueberries
Icing sugar for dusting

Yeast pastry
1. Place flour, dried yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add milk, eggs and butter. Mix with the dough hook of a stand mixer or knead by hand until a smooth dough is formed.
2. Cover and set aside in a warm place for dough to rise, approximately 1 hour.

Marzipan topping
1. Beat butter and marzipan until creamy in a stand mixer, or by hand.
2. Place marzipan topping in a piping bag, set aside until assembly.

1. Mix flour and sugar in a bowl. Add melted butter, mix together with fingers to form crumble. Set aside until assembly.

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Dust a clean, dry surface with flour. Roll out yeast pastry, transfer on to baking tray. Set aside to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes.
3. Using fingers, create dimples in Yeast Pastry, 5 cm apart. Pipe marzipan topping in dimples.
4. Distribute blueberries over yeast pastry. Spread crumble over blueberries.
5. Bake until crumble and edges are golden, approximately 25 minutes.
6. Once cool, dust blueberry crumb bread with icing sugar and serve.

Preparation time: approximately 1 hour + time for proving. Serves: Approximately 20

Nutritional information 
Per serving: 229 calories, 4.5 g protein, 7.7 g fat, 35 g carbohydrates, 77 mg sodium, 42 mg cholesterol, 2 g fibre
Wild Blueberry Association of North America

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Apricot and Pecan Muffins

Packed with fresh fruit and nuts, and delicately spiced with cinnamon, these homemade apricot and pecan muffins are lower in fat and sugar than store-bought muffins, and contain no trans fats or preservatives.

2 1/4 cups (550 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
3 tbsp (45 mL) wheat bran
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
2 large eggs
6 tbsp (90 mL) light unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (250 mL) skim milk
5 apricots, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped, about 1 cup (250 mL)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped pecans

Health experts recommend increasing the amount of fibre in our diet. These muffins help to do just that, especially when made with 1 cup (250 mL) chopped dried apricots instead of fresh ones. The muffins contribute both soluble and insoluble fibre, which is good for digestion, and also helpful in controlling the fat in our blood.
• Wheat bran is the indigestible outer fibrous part of the wheat grain. It is one of the richest sources of dietary fibre and helps keep the digestive system healthy.

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, wheat bran, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs until frothy and light yellow. Beat in the butter, then the milk, until well blended. Pour this mixture into the well in the centre of the flour mixture. Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix the batter or the muffins will be tough. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the apricots and pecans.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups 3/4 full. Bake the muffins until they are peaked and golden brown, about 20 minutes. The muffins are done when a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out almost clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 3 minutes before removing them. These muffins are best when served piping hot or within a few hours of baking.

Preparation time 25 minutes; baking time 20 minutes; makes 12 large muffins

• Banana-nut muffins: Use 1 cup (250 mL) mashed ripe banana instead of the apricots.
• Blueberry-nut muffins: Substitute 1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange zest for the lemon zest. Substitute 2 cups (500 mL) fresh blueberries for the apricots and 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped walnuts for the pecans.
• Strawberry muffins: Substitute 2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped, ripe strawberries for the apricots.
• Peach muffins: Use 2 cups (500 mL) coarsely chopped, peeled peaches instead of the apricots.
• High-fibre muffins: Use 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup (50 mL) of whole-wheat flour.

Nutritional information
Each serving (one muffin) provides: calories 236, calories from fat 62, fat 7 g, saturated fat 3 g, cholesterol 43 mg, carbohydrate 40 g, fibre 2 g, sugars 21 g, protein 5 g.
Choices per serving: Carbohydrate 2 1/2, fat 1 1/2
Excerpted from Eat to Beat Diabetes, available now in the Best Health Store