Tag Archives: quick

Easy Lemon Dill Salmon and the Truth about Fats

Dill and lemon salmon

Verdict: I love how simple, healthy and delicious this dish is. Salmon infused with lemon, complementary dill and a light crust of garlic. Can’t wait to make it again!

Quick Intro to Fats

Most fats are delicious and not all of them are bad! To begin our Beach Body Gourmet series, here’s a quick intro on the three main types of fat and a recipe that falls in the “good fat” group.

Types of Fat

(1) Saturated Fats – found in all animal foods and some vegetable oils such as coconut and palm oil.

Important note: eat less saturated fat (no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake).

Disclaimer: Saturated fat may not always be harmful.

Personally, I pick natural saturated fat over its hydrogenated version any day. For example, I’ll enjoy butter in small amounts but never margarine because it falls under the second fat category.

(2) Trans Fat aka Hydrogenated Fat – formed when vegetable oils are processed into margarine or shortening and found in high quantities in most processed foods.

Important note: eat fewer processed foods and restaurant meals.

(3) Polyunsaturated Fats aka Omega-6s and omega-3s
a) Omega-6s – found in all vegetable oils like soybean, sunflower, corn and sesame.

Important note: easy to overwhelm body with omega-6 because of the vegetable oil used in processed and fast foods.

b) Omega-3s – found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel and plant foods such as soybeans, flax seeds and nuts.

IMG_9480Heart healthy salmon with dill and lemon plus a surprise garlic crust.

Important note: omega-3s have been known to lower risk of heart disease but many do not eat enough.

Reference: Leslie Beck’s 10 Steps to Healthy Eating: Boost Energy, Manage Weight, Prevent Disease With the Right Foods

Here’s a recipe to help you get your omega-3s!

IMG_9471The recipe uses generous amounts of dill, garlic and lemon.

IMG_9495And creates a nutritional powerhouse meal with salmon, quinoa and salad.

Continue reading Easy Lemon Dill Salmon and the Truth about Fats

Intro to the Beach Body Gourmet

Varadero, Cuba beachMy sister and I in Varadero, Cuba

The Beach Body Gourmet was inspired by my first all-inclusive beach vacation. In May, I met up with my sister in Varadero, Cuba  and have a small confession about the pre-trip jitters. I’m embarrassed to admit this because my frame is boyish and my lifestyle is healthy; there are few reasons to fret over weight. At first, I couldn’t stop imagining the beautiful beaches but it wasn’t long before the body insecurities started kicking in and the beach body anxiety overtook the excitement of the trip.

To pull myself out of the temporary lapse in self-esteem and judgement, I started exercising more regularly, dedicating at least 3 to 4 days to exercise instead of the 1 – 2 days. I also started making lighter meals leading up to the trip. I went to Cuba with a lean body and a bit of a swagger, feeling strong and healthy.

Varadero beach hutHello from the pristine beaches of Cuba!

However, I learned that body shape has little effect on a vacation, it is the sensory memories that shape your trip – the sounds of the lapping ocean and the rustle of palm trees, the warmth of the sun on your back, the taste of minty mojitos on your lips. Outside your hotel room was sun-drenched beaches, crystal clear waters and silky sand; the day trip to Havana was vibrant and bustling; and the jeep excursion, with its off roading, snorkeling, and natural deep water cave, was an exciting day of many new experiences. I can’t wait to go back!

Driving in Havana, CubaBeep beep! Havana, Cuba cruising.

One downside of Cuba resort living was the constant buffets and lack of fresh veggies. I was booked for eight days, and by the fourth, I was already craving lighter meals and fresh salads. Upon my return to Calgary, I dove into the light recipe trove again. As a result, I created Beach Body Gourmet,  a collection of healthy and easy recipes.

Before I publish the series, I wanted to share some personal insight on the topic of healthy eating and some tips on how you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They won’t defend you from all bouts of body insecurity but they will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, which in turn, will help those bouts pass quickly. These are the 5 key healthy eating principles that I live by.

5 Principles of Healthier Eating

1) My #1 tip: know your food groups and your portions.

As an average adult, you need about 6 – 8 servings of grain products a day. Did you know that ½ cup of cooked pasta, about the size of half your fist, is 1 serving of grains? The amount of pasta served at your favourite restaurant averages at about 6 servings, almost your full daily grains intake!

Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, but did you know that they play a crucial role in portion control? If you aim to have veggies take up half the plate at lunch and dinner, that means you have less room for the more decadent but unhealthy items.

Canada’s Food Guide

Canada's Food Guide table

Check out Canada Food Guide – What is a portion?

Continue reading Intro to the Beach Body Gourmet

Buttermilk and Paprika Roast Chicken

Easy and delicious buttermilk roast chicken

Andrew’s Verdict: This dish provides an excellent, quick, and delicious way to cook chicken, perfect for a Sunday family dinner, or as an easy dinner any night. Experienced and inexperienced cooks: give this one a go. It’s fantastic.

A short, telling introduction: once, while attempting to strain pasta, I came very close to burning down our home.  While I do love food (even if I did not, I believe that anyone who spends a significant amount of time around Linh would come away with at least some appreciation for food, even if it were merely peripheral, like wearing a black sweater and leaning against a chalk-covered blackboard written upon by a favorite professor), I do not possess the full passion which Linh does.

Buttermilk and paprika Buttermilk with Spanished smoked paprika marinade.

So, then, it should be clear: cooking is not my forte.  I’ve never had much experience with it, nor have I had a great deal of success on those rare times when I stretched myself and tried to make a more elaborate dish.

Given my past difficulties, when I asked Linh to suggest a meal that I could prepare, the number one criterion was simplicity. After some thinking, she suggested this dish which originates from Smitten Kitchen; it promised to be a simple, delicious way to prepare roast chicken.  The blurb, beginning with a mouth-watering description of chicken done to a golden-tinged exterior perfection with a rich, flavorful, moist interior from the marinade sold me.

Roast for 30 minutes at 350F Chicken roasted to perfection in 30 minutes.

The marinade was very simple and quick to make.  I used a smoked Spanish paprika, and we’ve since prepared it with regular paprika (paprika can be found in many varieties).  Both turned out delicious, it’s just a matter of taste as to whether you’d prefer a less spicy, smokier, woodsy chicken or a something in the spicier spectrum.  I whipped up the marinade, dumped it in the bag with the chicken, and let it soak overnight. Easy. The original recipe noted that a day-long soak makes a remarkable difference, so that’s what I stuck to this time.   We’ve since made this in a time-crunched two-hour soak, and while still yielding a tasty result, the 24 hour sit is definitely preferable.  Roasting the chicken was a simple matter of 30 minutes in the oven at 425 (for legs; 35 to 40 minutes for breasts is suggested).  As per the recipe, I drizzled the legs lightly with extra olive oil, and sprinkled paprika and some sea salt to taste.

Roast chicken with quinoa and broccoli Roast chicken with quinoa and broccoli.

Due to my lack of culinary experience (as previously noted), I messed up a bit and ended up with some soggy sides – a serving of broccoli that was on the limp side, and some ill-timed quinoa– which, in turn, caused me to leave the chicken in the oven a bit longer than I should have.  As it turns out, the marinade saved the day by helping to attenuate any errors incurred from my poor form.  The chicken came out of the oven moist and delicious.

Tender morsel of chicken Super moist buttermilk marinated chicken.

Continue reading Buttermilk and Paprika Roast Chicken

How to Fold Foil Food Packets

Foil packet balsamic chicken

Summary: Learn to fold foil food packets that make quick and easy meals.

Food that is wrapped in foil can be cooked in the oven, on the grill, or over an open camp fire. This cooking method prevents loss of moisture and produces very tender meat. Plus, there’s minimal clean up.

Equipment:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Food items – usual food packet combination includes: meat, veggies and 2 – 3 tablespoons of sauce or broth

Note: you can substitute the foil with parchment paper if placing the food packets in the oven. This is not recommended if cooking over a bbq or camp fire as it will just add to the fire.

1. Select a piece of foil that is approximately 15” long. (My aluminum foil was 15” in length and default width of 12”.) Place food items in the center of foil  and drizzle with sauce or broth.

15" by 12" piece of foil

2. Bring up the lengths of the foil sides like a tent and roll down towards center, stopping about an 1” before you reach the meat – this leaves room for heat circulation.

Food tent with foil

3. Fold the foil ends toward center to seal pack.

Roll bottom toward centre

4. Cook packet in oven, on grill or over a camp stove.

Foil food packet bliss

Meal Ideas

  • Balsamic Chicken – 4 breasts will cook in about 30 minutes at 425 F
  • Salmon with lemon, garlic and dill, with 2 tablespoons of butter or white wine – 4 fillets will cook in 20 minutes at 350 F

Green Thai Curry – Chicken with Broccoli

Thai green curry.

Verdict: This is the only recipe you will ever need for Thai curry. Once you are comfortable with how to prepare the dish, there are unlimited combinations of curry, meat and veggie to try.

Hey everyone! For my first post, I wanted to share a recipe we turn to often. We used it a lot when I first moved to Calgary from Vancouver in March 2010. It encompasses the elements that I love about home cooking: simple, hearty and healthy. Under time pressure I’ve been able to make this, from start to finish, in 20 minutes flat.

Growing up, I learned to associate food with spending quality time with loved ones. Regardless of how busy things got, our family always tried to have dinner together. When I first moved to Calgary (marking my first time living away), I tried to recreate that tradition with Sunday “family dinners” with my new roommates.  I’ll admit, I was also trying to woo them into thinking I was a worthy roommate. I would later need their adoration to get away with listening to music too loudly – at all hours.

Among the meals we cooked on Sunday nights, I remember the Thai curries the most vividly. The sweet and spicy curry paste, the fragrance of simmering coconut milk, the fresh cooked rice.  My roommates, who weren’t crazy about cooking, asked for lessons on how to make this dish and soon after, not a month went by without one of us making Thai curry. At first, we went crazy with the ingredients. Being health conscious, we used to overload the curry with as many different vegetables as we could. Over time, I’ve learned that the curry really shines when you have one meat item and a maximum of four vegetables.

Thai green curry ingredients.

We’ve made many different Thai curries over the years and I find the green curry with chicken and broccoli the easiest and most approachable. You’ll only need to stray from your regular grocery shopping routine for the Thai curry pastes, coconut milk and fish sauce which can be found in the International (Asian/Indian) aisle in most grocery stores. I’ve yet to find kaffir lime leaves in Calgary though. To get started, I recommend buying the red and green curry pastes first. They last over a year in the fridge and make for a quick weeknight dinner.

Note that the following recipe is a basic guide for making Thai curries. In the future, you’ll see many more permutations of this recipe as we always have a few jars of Thai curry pastes in the fridge. If you make this only once, you’ll be surprised how quick and delicious it is to make home made curries. If you’re like us, you may love making homemade Thai curries so much, you lose interest in restaurant varieties completely.

Pot full of curry.

Continue reading Green Thai Curry – Chicken with Broccoli