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Posts from — October 2010

Fat Delivery Vehicles and Macaroons

Good morning sunshines!

This post has a duty-free section and a healthy living section. The duty-free section is at the end, and I would urge you not to scroll down because frankly you may not want to read about spinach if you do.

Fat Delivery Vehicle (FDV) 1: Green Monster (for Coconut Oil)

I have been drinking green monsters for a couple of years, and I especially like them for times when I am not eating a lot of salads or perhaps just have a strange craving for spinach or want to shock my coworkers by drinking a strange-looking green beverage in a meeting.

However, one thing has always bothered me while I was drinking my green smoothies: unless I was using whole milk or yogurt (which I didn’t like the taste of), I couldn’t figure out how to add in fat.

At the same time, I was reading all this research on coconut oil and I was trying to come up with ways to add more coconut oil to my diet. Eventually, I had a light bulb moment and realized that coconut and fruit went together. Therefore, Green Monsters were actually the ideal delivery method for coconut oil.

All the tastiness and nutritional goodness of my spinach-fruit-orange-coconut oil combo makes me do little dances around the kitchen. Here is how it’s done:

I start with a half-blender’s worth of spinach (maybe 2.5 cups?),

add in my fruit (today, it was frozen mangos and blueberries),

and add a dollop of orange juice concentrate. This is the one “unnatural” thing about my GMs, but I am ok with that, because I don’t like the taste of either milk or replacement milks (and the replacement milks are processed too).

The orange juice concentrate* makes the GM taste like fruit juice (seriously, try it!) and provides valuable wintertime vitamin C.

* I used actual orange juice at first, but this is so much easier!

Then, I add in the coconut oil. Why am I taking pictures of it on my stove? It’s the best lighting in my kitchen (see my pasta post for an example of Lighting, Everywhere Else).

Why are there crumbs on the stove? Let’s just say it’s not for nothing that I called this blog Duty Free Foodie, not Perfect Homesteader Foodie, okay? Don’t say I tried to trick you.

I use 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and add wheat grass as well (optional) and 1-2 cups of water to blend (depending on desired thickness).

I like to take mine to work or drink them out of a beer glass. Because I am an adult and I do what I want.

(The inscription on the glass reads “All Natural Tastes Better”).


Ryan’s parents just came back from France and brought back macaroons.

When I first saw them, I went a little crazy with excitement and forgot all about picture taking. I was too busy trying to call dibs on the tastiest-looking macaroons.

They whole pile looked even better, I assure you. Here is what was left after about 5 minutes:

This is the lemon macaroon from above, taken while I was in the process of enjoying it:

… and just  like that, they were gone.

Frankie watched me make the GM this morning.

He is saying, “Stop dancing around the kitchen. You were supposed to feed me ten minutes ago.”

Do you have a favourite Fat Delivery Vehicle?

October 29, 2010   16 Comments

Super Easy Mushroom Soup

Today, I have for you guys the recipe for the world’s simplest mushroom soup.

But first, I will tell you how this mushroom soup came about.

Yesterday, we had Mandatory Carb-Loading at work. There was a celebratory Pizza Lunch followed by ice cream for charity, and I was forced to participate kind of excited about it.

But I got so caught up in keeping up with the Joneses (I take strange pride in being able to eat men under the table) that by the time we got to this point …

… I couldn’t even finish my ice cream.

As I felt the white flour and sugar entering my brain, I decided to go for a walk.

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I’ll miss flowers for the next seven months of Canadian Winter!

Does anyone else have a minor obsession with fountains?

But even after my walk, I nearly fell asleep in a departmental meeting. I wanted to tell everyone, “I am not a jerkface! I am just entering a very severe sugar coma!”

Needless to say, I came home craving vegetables.*

* I know mushrooms are not technically a vegetable, but I feel like they are conceptually in the same general category. Kind of like tomatoes.

Mushrooms Do Not Get Enough Love

Our fungous little friends are really quite nutritious! According to NutritionData, 1 cup of Portobellas contain 34% of the day’s Riboflavin, 36% Niacin, 19% Pantothenic Acid, 18% Phosphorus and Potassium, 30% Copper, and 31% Selenium.  And we have this mushroom soup recipe that is so simple to make that anyone can do it, even if they only recently came out of a sugar coma.

Mushroom Soup Recipe of Delightful Simplicity and Surprising Deliciousness

First, get out your ingredients. All you need is:

  • butter,
  • olive oil,
  • chicken broth,
  • large sweet onion,
  • a pile of mushrooms,
  • thyme
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Proportions aren’t terribly important here. The key to success is to get a variety of mushrooms. With so few ingredients and no cream sauce, the mushrooms really make a difference. I used a combination of white, cremini, portabella, and oyster.

1. Chop your mushrooms. I like to chop some of them finely and some of them a little chunkier. This makes the texture of the final soup more interesting.

2. Finely chop your onion, or get your boyfriend to do it for you, even if he is on crutches and has a broken foot. After all, you can’t make the rest of the soup if you are crying for the next 20 minutes.

2. Saute your onion on Medium heat until translucent with a large chunk of butter (I used approx. 4 tbsp), a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, and pinches of salt, pepper, and thyme.

3. When onions are translucent, add mushrooms. Stir in a few tablespoons of chicken broth, along with 2 tsp of thyme, and some more salt and pepper. Keep stirring as the mushrooms let out water and the liquid reduces. You can crank up the heat to help the liquid cook down faster. Keep reducing until the liquid on the bottom starts to thicken and your mushrooms look nice and soup-textured (10-15 minutes).

4. Add in the rest of your container of broth and simmer down until desired texture is reached (in our case, about 30 minutes). Optional: partially hand-blend  the soup if you want a creamier texture.

5. Enjoy three bowls of delicious mushroom soup in order to prevent any possible niacin deficiencies.

But don’t give any soup to the dog. She just ate!!

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Poor Trixie with her Bottomless Stomach.

Reader Cry For Help of the Day: How do I chop onions without spending the next 20 minutes in tears?

October 28, 2010   13 Comments

Sushi Kan

Good morning, my beautiful people!

Yesterday was an uncharacteristically warm day in Ottawa (all you needed was a light jacket), and I took advantage of this to go play with my camera at lunchtime. I am learning to use the manual settings.

I took a picture of the Terry Fox statue for inspiration – I am going to run at lunch today for the first time in a couple of months.

And then spent most of my lunch hour trying in vain to capture a runner beside this fountain. Alas, they all sped by me while I was adjusting my aperture.

But I had to save my real energies for the eating marathon that lay ahead:

Sushi Kan

I love sushi.

And up until recently, I went only to regular sushi restaurants to get my fix. However, after an extensive analysis of my credit card statements, I have concluded that I perhaps may not want to be eating a la carte sashimi on a California Roll budget.

This is where Sushi Kan comes in: it’s All-You-Can-Eat. It includes sashimi. It’s surprisingly tasty. And it (the Innes Road location) comes recommended by many people who have eaten there before me.

AYCE rule # 1: Let Others Test Before You Enjoy

I am not much of a risk taker (there is that Soviet upbringing again). But many lesser stomachs have successfully eaten here before me, so last night, two friends and I dug in.

Just look at all those Omega-3’s !!!

Omega-3 fats help reduce the inflammation that is caused by consuming processed foods (see yesterday’s nacho post for an example of “Foods, Processed”).

And we ate baked fuji rolls. I am not exactly sure what is in them, but they are baked and warm and delicious.

My friends ordered this hilarious looking shrimp thing. I had to take a picture of it, even though I am not an enjoyer of shrimp myself.

Of course, it was not all sashimi and baked mystery rolls. I got a few pieces of sushi as well – sashimi is all well and good, but there is something to be said for rice.

AYCE Rule # 2: Do Not Shun Rice Just Because You Can

When you put a piece of sushi with rice in its soy sauce bath, the rice absorbs the salty goodness, creating an entirely new cacophony of flavours.

Which you can then enjoy while the waitress asks you if you want to order something for Last Call.

Seriously, what kind of question is that?

Have you ever tried an all-you-can-eat sushi place? Or are you one of those people who just wouldn’t?

October 27, 2010   14 Comments

Nacho Reunion

So I promised several people a healthy recipe today.

I was going to post about my usual lunch salad which is super filling and nutritious and takes all of 2 minutes to make.

Yes, I wanted to talk about the salad. All those vitamins and minerals are too wonderful not to celebrate.

But I slept in this morning so instead we are going to celebrate these nachos. Because the photos are already on my phone and really, they need to be talked about.

These nachos are from the Cock & Lion in downtown Ottawa, an underground pub I used to frequent when I was a student. I had a co-op job half a block away, and we (the students) held meetings there. Meetings over nachos and zucchini sticks and especially hot wings. We went there for meetings and happy hour too.

Back then, they had a hot wing flavour just for me. It was my special mix of Hot sauce and Suicide. I don’t remember what it was called. If I remember, I’ll write about it.

Anyway, these are not the best nachos ever, but they are very good. Just look at that bite.

Yes, I ordered the Large. In my defence, I do stop eating as soon as I run out of cheese.

Dearest Cock & Lion Nachos,

Let’s not wait 5 years before we meet next, okay?

(Bonus points to anyone who can spot the strange and funny aspect in the first photo).

Now excuse me while I go make that salad.

October 26, 2010   5 Comments

Where Your Issues At?

A few years ago, when I first started hitting the gym, I had a smashing-hot BodyPump instructor. This lady had a very sculpted but feminine physique, with enough body fat to look really healthy, but still enough muscle tone to show that she was really fit. I spent most of the class trying to figure out whether we had a similar enough body type that I could maybe one day look like her if I kept up with fitness.

I mean, she wasn’t an airbrushed picture in a magazine – she was an actual breathing woman with a workout routine that very possibly led to awesomeness. So I thought I would ask her a couple of questions after class and try to figure out what other workouts she did.

So I chatted her up and we talked for a bit about BodyPump and different workouts, and I was growing more impressed with her awesomeness by the second.

Then I asked, “So what else do you do?” – meaning, obviously, “to stay in shape?”

And then the most unexpected thing happened: this amazing, strong, confident woman practically shrank before my eyes. She muttered something about teaching a couple of other classes as well and having a few personal training clients, and got busy putting away gym equipment.

Suddenly it dawned on me: I asked “what do you do to look awesome so I can do it too?” and she heard something completely different. She heard “What else do you do for a living that’s more important/impressive than teaching group fitness?”

Now, I think that teaching group fitness is an awesome job. And it looked like she really enjoyed it. But I don’t think that she considered it somehow “enough.” And the worst part was, when she received a sincere complement based in pure admiration, she couldn’t even pat herself on the back for being awesome.

This encounter really stayed with me over the years. And when I am feeling maybe a little bit judged, I try to remember:

  • What we hear is often not what was said.
  • It’s useful to know where our issues are so we can adjust for them, even a little.

October 25, 2010   2 Comments

A Saucy Evening

Last night, we had Fettuccine Alfredo. Not even the homemade stuff, but rather the quick stuff from M&M (with the accompanying garlic bread, of course). I haven’t had this dish in months, because like I said before, I really do eat healthfully most of the time (gratuitous  pecan pie consumption notwithstanding).

However, there was just no time to cook last night, so it was back to this old favourite.

First of all, let me just point out that M&M makes the sauciest take-out Fettuccine Alfredo in at least all of Ontario, and very possibly also the world. I mean, look at that sauce! (the parsley is from our garden).

Of course, we added lots of parmesan cheese for protein. I didn’t work out yesterday, but I am still sore from Boot Camp on Wednesday so clearly the cheese was mandatory.

This is actually one of the dishes that Ryan made for me when we first started dating. In addition to parmesan and parsley, he also modified it by adding in extra cream. It was divine.

This dish, along with Jamie Oliver’s spicy pasta and our daily regimen of beer and wine at the time, is how I gained twenty pounds.

Thankfully, I figured out I could lose it by eating butter! I am now back to my happy weight.

The leftover garlic bread, however, is trying to eat the leftover parmesan.

Oh for the love of all that is healthy, how can I stop this travesty from happening?

… Clearly, someone has to eat that bread before the cheese suffers.

October 22, 2010   2 Comments

Meet Trixie

Meet Trixie. Her hobbies include walking, getting chest and belly rubs, and thieving from the dining room table.

We went for a walk this weekend.

Because Trixie wanted to hunt for squirrels. See? That’s Trixie saying “Mom, stop taking pictures of flowers! I just saw a squirrel!”

And I wanted to take pictures of flowers and use the fancy-pants camera I got in May before fall was over.

Because I never seem to have it on me when I encounter a leaf that just begs to be seen through a macro lens.

Or whatever these things are called.

We walked and walked until Trixie got tired.

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And got home just in time, I think, because Frank had moved from this position:

… to this one:

I mean, I don’t even know what to say.

October 21, 2010   3 Comments

My food philosophy in a nutshell

I’ve tried so many different ways of eating, it makes me dizzy just to think about it. One day I’ll definitely post about my not-so-duty-free past. But today, I’ll tell you guys about the way of eating I have followed for the past couple of years – I am pretty happy with it right now.

The Basics

I try to eat real food 80%-90% of the time, devoting the other 10-20% of what I eat to guilt-free pleasure.*

It’s kind of like what Benjamin Graham says about speculation vs. investing. Not that I am doing either at the moment. (But if I were, I would probably speculate 20% or less because a Soviet upbringing isn’t very conducive to risk-taking.) It’s the same way with food. If I stop eating desserts and nachos, my life feels woefully incomplete. But if I eat too many, I start craving vegetables. If you were to tell me ten years ago I would start craving vegetables if I ate too much chocolate, I would probably have had a very premature heart attack.**

So that’s it in a nutshell - eat healthy most of the time, and indulge without feeling bad about it afterwards. Because really, life is too short.

*This month, my diet consists 20% of pecan pie. This one was actually taken out of the freezer in the back for me by the gracious grocery store staff. Public Service Announcement: pecan pie is even better straight out of the freezer.

** That’s because ten years ago, I literally bought a cinnamon bun every third period and a chocolate bar every day for lunch. I was on a constant energy roller coaster. Usually the chocolate bar was a Hershey’s Cookies & Creme. So tasty! But I digress …

Some other mini-principles

  • When in doubt, I usually choose the fatty thing over the carby thing. I also try to eat butter at least once a day. It is heart-healthy, after all
  • I eat vegetables … almost every single day.
  • I think of “real food” as anything that occurs in nature with minimal processing. So olive oil is in, but canola is out. Butter is in, but margarine is out. Honey is in, but sugar is … oh who am I kidding, it’s still in, just not as often.
  • I eat carbs, but I do try to avoid sugar and flour as much as I reasonably can.
  • I don’t count calories or grams of any kind. I do aim to get enough fat and protein for my body, but I prefer to go with intuition over math on this one.

That’s it for me! What about you?

October 20, 2010   12 Comments

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