Category Archives: Healthier Eating

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I really should of been a baker. Not a fancy sort with funky icing designs, or cake too pretty to eat sort of baker, but a practical, every day healthy food consumption kind of baker.  Stop at my little corner bakery on the way to work for your breakfast to-go.  I could do it.  Maybe I should do it…

Sixteen years ago when my son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies (peanuts and tree nuts) I started paying attention to ingredients in food. Up until then I had the grab and shove in cart mentality.

That many years ago there wasn’t a large variety of peanut/nut free foods or even strict allergen listing requirements that is available today. So, if my child was to enjoy a cookie, or a muffin or at that point, bread, I had better get the baking ingredients out and get’er done.  Besides, I started to notice this food in EVERYTHING called ‘Soy’ and labeled in many different forms. Soy lecithin, soy flour, hydrolyzed soy, soy soy soy. After much research into the world of soy, we avoid all soy in this home and if you buy anything premade/boxed etc., you will more than likely find it in the ingredients list. Anyways, this post isn’t about the deteriorating ingredient list in foods, its about super refreshing delicious Lemon Blueberry Muffins.

When it comes to blueberries and baking, the type matters. The small wild blueberries, won’t give you the blue bleed. The taste of biting into a juicy blueberry isn’t as prominent in the small blueberries, so I recommend Blueberries. You can use wild blueberries, just not my fav when it comes to baking.

If you are lucky like us, you will have a Mennonite Blueberry Farm around the corner. I can pop in anytime of year and grab a bag of frozen big juicy blueberries.

Chances are you can buy blueberries in your local area in the late summer when it is in season. The good things about this farm is they don’t use pesticides or harmful treatments so you can just plop them in a freezer bag and have on hand all year around. No washing. (Fantastic for smoothies too).

I also got a wonderful gift recently from a friend who went to Mexico and brought back vanilla.  The good stuff!

Like most of my recipes they have happened by accident and the measurements are my critiquing over time. Ok, here we go.

Side Note: I never advocate for the use of margarine in my baking.  It has a different outcome and really, if you are using margarine, do yourself a favour and don’t.  Seriously, don’t believe all the crap the agencies tell you.  Hydrolyzed anything and soy is not for human consumption!

Ingredients

1/2 cup melted butter
2 large farm eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1 cup of organic cane sugar
2 cups of blueberries (frozen is best for the addition to baking)
Zest of 2 organic lemons (zest of anything should be organic to avoid crop sprays)
2 tsp of vanilla
2 cups of AP flour, plus more for blueberry dusting
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt

See that ingredient list?  Wonderful!  Okay, lets get ready to bake!

Preheat your oven to 375 – I use convention oven, but any oven will do.  Line your muffin tray with paper cups.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, add your melted butter (room temperature so you don’t scramble your eggs), vanilla, sugar, milk and mix until all incorporated.  Add in your lemon zest.jUNE 2017 058
(yup, those are pretty blue eggs from a friends farm)

Put the frozen blueberries into a bowl and cover them with flour and make sure they are all dusted.

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After your wet ingredients are all mixed well, add in your dry ingredients slowly with mixer on low.  Let it mix for 1 minute on medium speed.  If your batter looks too dry don’t be afraid to add a splash of milk to get the desired texture seen in the picture.  Some flours, especially depending on age, can be more dry than others.  A bit more milk never hurt anyone.

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Remove bowl from mixer stand.  Add your frozen flour dusted blueberries (not all the flour in the bottom of the bowl, just the blueberries) to your batter.  Fold the blueberries in gently.

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Once completely mixed, scoop into lined muffin tray.  Fill them up!

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Put the trays in your preheated oven.  Turn 1/2 way through cooking.  Watch your muffins as they can easily overcook in the matter of 2 mins.  Then you’ll have dry I need a drink of coffee kind of muffins.  Look for a bounce back when gently pushed in the middle to see if it is done.  Cook for 15-20 mins depending on your oven and elevation.

Remove from tray immediately and place on a bakers rack to cool.

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Bakers tip:  Baked foods always continue to cook for a few minutes while cooling.  So its OK to pull from the oven when JUST done, that extra minute you would wait in the oven, let it do it on the counter.

This is such a great ‘summer’ muffin that can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.  The lemon is fresh and the blueberries are juicy!

Thanks for stopping by!

Never Spare Me The ‘Sparagus

Yes, I know, I know;  I disappeared from the joys of expressing ones self in blogging.  A lot, and I mean a lot has been going on in my life, which I will get to writing as the days and weeks go by, but for now I am looking forward to getting my feet wet again with a simply delicious season-appropriate recipe.

Each seasons brings out natures finest in fresh food offerings.

Summer is probably best known for the berry season.  Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries.  Then we have juicy plump tomatoes that are warm from the sun and we promise ourselves as we slurp the tomato we will never eat a tomato in the winter again.  And what do we do?  Buy tomatoes in December.  A friend grows heritage tomatoes and I got a bunch off her last spring and I ate one like an apple in the car on the way home.  O M G!  It is amazing how they taste like, well like a tomato should.
Falls’ crisp cool air is symmetrical to the crisp bite into an orchard apple or pear.
Fall also gifts us with beautiful squash, potatoes, garlic, leeks and the every delicious versatile cabbage family that doesn’t hold anything against the baby cabbage aka Brussel sprouts.

And then we have spring.  You know what is one of my favourite spring foods? You guess it.  ASPARAGUS!  Never spare me the ‘Sparagus.

Oh as an interesting FACT, did you know this about asparagus?

“Depending on which study you read, between 22% and 50% of the population report having pungent pee after eating asparagus. But that doesn’t mean only some people’s bodies generate that smell. Researchers believe that, during digestion, the vegetable’s sulfurous amino acids break down into smelly chemical components in all people. And because those components are “volatile,” meaning airborne, the odor wafts upward as the urine leaves the body and can be detected as soon as 15 minutes after you eat this spring delicacy.

But only about one-quarter of the population appears to have the special gene that allows them to smell those compounds. So the issue isn’t whether or not your pee is smelly; it’s whether you’re able to smell it. If you smell a funny fragrance in your urine after you eat asparagus, you’re not only normal, you have a good nose.”

Ref: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/why-pee-smells-funny-eat-asparagus

Good news (or is it), I have good nose.

Asparagus is also said to be good for Kidney stones.  I get stones and as soon as I feel them, and trust me YOU KNOW, I eat a bundle of asparagus and within 24 hrs I am feeling much relief.  I just make a point of eating asparagus 2-3 times a week when I feel the stones reappear (and hold my nose when I pee).

Ok, enough chatter, lets get your fork and knife ready, this is a doozy!

Chicken Breast stuffed with Asparagus & Provolone Cheese

Ingredients
4 chicken breasts
1 bundle of asparagus (always tastes best from your own backyard or a friends)
2 cups of bread crumbs – add garlic powder, basil, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.
2 eggs beaten
4 slices of Provolone cheese
Olive Oil
Cooking string

Put olive oil in pan.  Add enough to cover bottom of fying pan plus a little more.

Lightly steam your asparagus for 1 min.

Cut your chicken breasts in half but leave joined – butterfly.

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Add a slice of provolone and 3-4 asparagus pieces to the middle of your butterflied chicken breast.

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Tie up your chicken breast, but not too tight.  Just enough to hold it together.  Dunk the stuffed breast into the egg and roll it around to make sure it is good and covered.  Put in bread crumb mixture and cover completely.

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Turn on oil in pan to preheat while you do the rest.  med-high should work.
Place all your stuffed breast in the preheated pan and turn all 3 sides when browned.

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Preheat oven to 425 while your stuffed chicken is cooking.  Line a flat sheet (cookie sheet) with tinfoil.
Flip chicken breast to cook all around.

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Here they are, all browning up and ready to transfer to oven.

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Place in pre-heated oven, uncovered for 10-15 mins.  Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving. **Remember to remove the string before eating**

Because I love asparagus, I also made a steamed batch of asparagus with fresh garlic and shredded lemon rind and a Greek themed salad.

Dinner is served and what a fine feast it was!

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Delicious!

And my 2 delicious sides!

Hope you give this recipe a try, it does not disappoint.

Cheers!!!

Sandy

Be Good To The Senior In You ❤️

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

Ingredients
1 cup of 100% Wheat Bran
1 1/2 cup of 1% buttermilk
1/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil
1 large egg
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 cup of AP Flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (more or less) raisins

Directions:  Preheat over to 375 (convection bake). Line muffin tin with muffin paper or silicone inserts. My preference is non-bleached muffin paper that is biodegradable. Top that Starbucks & Tim Hortons!!

Bowl #1
Wheat bran and buttermilk. Mix and let it stand for 5-10 mins.

Bowl #2
Oil, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix with a blender on medium until creamy and smooth.

Mix bowl #2 into bowl #1. Make sure they are incorporated into each other fully.

Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into mixture and mix with spatula until smooth and mixed well.  Stir in raisins.

Scoop into prepared muffin pan. Fill to the top of the liner. Not halfway. All the way to the top (see picture).

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Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Easy right?v
Use the ‘spring back’ test to check for readiness.  Remove promptly from pan and place on cooling rack.

Enjoy warm and cooled.

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Carb Crasher

This is how I envision my withdrawal from carbohydrates.

Me: “Hello, My name is Sandy.”

The room replies with nodding heads of assurance: “Welcome Sandy

I shamefully admit to a room full of strangers: “I…I’m…I am a carb-a-holic.”

The room will break out in unison sighs and gasps with a recognition only us at this meeting can relate too.

Lately I’ve noticed some serious carb crashes.  It took me a while to figure out what, I believe, is going on.  I would eat ‘something’ and need a nap almost immediately.  And by nap I mean 3-4 hours of sloppy sleep as I drunkenly try to make myself to a bed and flop down and try to leave my misery.  (sloppy sleep = toss and turning all while being light headed and feeling heavy headed at the same time.  Fun times).  I am very dozy if sleep isn’t available and in what felt like minutes, I would be hungry again.  Ok, it really isn’t minutes, I just talk a bit exaggerated sometimes.

I started paying attention.  Hmm, looks like pasta, bread, potatoes, rice and popcorn all make me sleepy.  Back to my sesame street days, what do these items have in common?  They are all super delicious and full of yummy carbohydrates.  Ahhhh HA!

I live with an Italian, Einstein.  Flyp is also a natural Italian.  Not 100% Italian (thanks to his mother) but Flyp thinks he is one with his eating habits and his suntan capabilities in the summer.  HA!!  He is pasta all the way with loads of bread and meat.  Holy meat batman!!  This kid is a meat-a-tarian.  But I think it is because he is in teenage years and his body is craving the proteins.  Both of their lives consist of pasta and bread.  I make it often, too often for my liking.

I also eat a lot of rice.  I love rice.  When I make rice for dinner, I sing my song “rice is nice, nice little pellets of rice even mice will like.’  Yup I sing about rice, that’s how much I love it.  Basmati is my favourite!!!!!!  YUM! I also think popcorn is heavenly and eat it an embarrassing 3-4 times a week as a snack after dinner.   Like I mentioned above eating after dinner is because I’m frigging hungry again.  It’s very frustrating.

Side Note:  Due to a lot of corn being GMO’d, I only eat organic popcorn.  And it’s not even microwaved.  We don’t even own a microwave. Smart eh?

Does anyone just not eat carbs?  Really not eat any or just say they don’t?  Will my life suck without carbs?  No doubt.  But I’m definitely going to reduce my carb intake just for the sake of feeling better.  At least I hope I will feel better.

I also have a diabetes test to get done.  Eventually I’ll get to it.  It requires me fasting and leaving the house without a morning latte.  The fasting portion is fine.  Leaving the house without caffeine is not recommended for public safety.  WTF!! Fix your test pharmaceutical science!

Last night I made a spinach salad with strawberries, cucumbers and feta cheese to go with pasta and meatballs.   I didn’t eat the pasta.  It’s not hard for me to avoid pasta as it definitely is not my favourite.  It’s over used in this house thanks to the Italians that live here.  Pasta to me is like rubbing your leg in the same spot over and over and over and frigging over until it has irritated you so bad, that you never want to touch that spot on your leg again.  That’s pasta for me.  Not hard to never eat again.  I did eat the meatballs which had minimal bread crumbs but life was different after dinner.  It was definitely a noticeable difference after dinner and I felt much better.

Today I had a bowl of organic granola around 11am.  Not even thinking about carbs.  I almost fell asleep at the computer 20 minutes later.  I haven’t gone to look at the box of granola yet but I’m betting carbs are high.  This carbohydrate reduction will definitely will be a big change for me.  Consciously looking at and considering the carb factor is bound to come with some ooops until it becomes regular routine.   After many years I am now used to shopping peanut and nut free for Flyp, its second nature, but considering carbs will be a new learning process for me.

I have always cooked meals primarily based on their liking, rather than my own.  I would eat much differently if they weren’t around, but they don’t care for my west coast style meals.  Meals in our home need to change, for me to feel better.  A spinach leaf for everyone!  HAHA.

Direction:  For me, my carbohydrates are on immediate reduction.  For them, I will make it gradual and hopefully they won’t even notice.

Tonight for dinner I’m making honey mustard organic chicken breasts with Caesar salad.  For the men in this house, I will add a few roasted herbed potato wedges.  Let’s hope for night #2 of feeling better after dinner.

I should look into the Paleo Diet.  I’ve heard its primarily carb free.  I just don’t care for so much meat in my diet.  I’ll have to check it out.