Apples for the Teacher

Bell Pepper Egg-In-A-Hole

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bell pepper (colour of your choice)
  • 4-5 large eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (or mozzarella)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

1.     In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium/high heat.

2.     Cut pepper into ½ inch rings and remove seeds and centers. Place peppers in the pan and let them sauté for a minute.

3.     Crack one egg into the centre of each slice of pepper. Pour the egg in slowly. It will prevent the egg from leaking and will form a nice seal.

4.     Sprinkle with Salt and pepper, sauté for 3 minutes then flip carefully.

5.     Top with a generous amount of cheese.

6.     If you want the yolks to be juicy (over easy) cook for another minute.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

 

Classic Bell Pepper Recipe

Prep Time: 15 Min

Cook: 30 Min

Total: 45 Min

Servings: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 4 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow or green) with ½ inch trimmed off the top, core and seeds discarded.
  • ½ cup long grain white rice
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 12 oz ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, ¼ cup juice reserved
  • 1 ¼ cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 4 quarts water

 

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add 1 tbsp salt and bell peppers. Cook peppers until they just begin to soften, approx 3 mins.
  3. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain excess water and place whole side down on paper towels.
  4.  Return water to a boil, add rice and cook until tender. Once cooked, drain rice and transfer to a large bowl-set aside.
  5. Adjust oven rack to the middle and pre-heat to 350.
  6. Heat oil on the stove, swirl to cover the pan. Add onion, stir occasionally until softened and beginning to brown.
  7. Add the ground beef, break into small pieces while cooking, until no longer pink.
  8. Stir in garlic and until fragrant.
  9. Transfer mixture to the bowl with rice; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Stir ketchup and reserved tomato juice in a small bowl.
  11. Place pepper cut side up into a baking dish and divide the meat/rice mixture evenly among the peppers.
  12. Spoon 2 tbsp of ketchup mixture over each pepper and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  13. Bake until cheese is browned and heated through, approx 25-30 min.
  14. Serve immediately and enjoy!

How to Guide for Bell Peppers

With their bright yellow, red, orange and green skins, bell peppers are the sirens of summer produce. We love these capsicums because they bring color, sweetness and texture to our dishes – either raw or cooked. And, they’re no slouch in the nutrition department, one cup of chopped, raw red pepper contains more Vitamin C than one cup of orange juice. Peppers are often available year round, but it’s great to get them now, while their flavour is peaking and their prices are dipping.

 

How to Pick Peppers

Red, yellow and orange peppers are sweeter than the green ones, because the green ones are not ripe. When buying bell peppers, look for clear, shiny, intact skins. They should feel firm and heavy for their size. They can be stored in the fridge for about a week.

How to Cut up Peppers

When it comes to preparing bell peppers, first wash and dry them. Then, remove the stem by cutting around it in a circle. This gets rid of most of the seeds. When you look inside, you’ll see the white “ribs”; slice down the ribs, so that you have three or four pieces of pepper.

How to Eat Peppers

Eat them raw: Enjoy crunchy strips of raw bell peppers in your next vegetable platter or throw some diced pepper into a chef salad.  A whole bell pepper with its stem and seeds removed can serve as the “bowl” for a dip, pasta or rice salad.

Eat them roasted: Cooking peppers really brings out their sweetness, so roasting them under high heat is one of the most popular cooking methods. Here’s how: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, and line a baking pan with foil. Cut the pepper into quarters, place on the foil and roast until the skin turns black. Once out of the oven, cover the pieces with a tea towel or put them in a container with a lid. When the pepper has cooled, you can peel the skin off. The soft pieces of roasted pepper can be added to salads or sandwiches, or can be incorporated into other recipes. Try some roasted red pepper with cream or goat cheese on bread. If you’re in a pinch, you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar – but they’ll taste better if you roast them yourself.

Beautiful Bell Peppers

This month we are celebrating bell peppers while they are in the peak of their season and have the best flavour. Few other vegetables can add such a wonderful burst of colour to many recipes. 

The green, red, yellow, orange, purple and black colours reflect the rich source of health-promoting phytonutrients found in bell peppers which provide powerful antioxidant protection against free radicals.  Despite their varied colour palette, all are the same plant, know scientifically as Capsicum annum. They are members of the nightshade family which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Sweet peppers are plump, and bell-shaped that feature three or four lobes. Green and purple peppers have a slightly bitter flavour, while red, orange and yellow are sweeter and almost fruity. Although peppers are available throughout the year, they are most abundant and tasty during the summer and early fall months.

 

Health Benefits

  • One medium sized red bell pepper contains 169% for the RDS for vitamin C, making it one of the richest dietary sources of this essential nutrient.
     
  • Fresh, raw bell peppers are mainly composed of water (92%).
     
  • The high amount of vitamin C in peppers, powers up your immune system and keeps skin looking youthful.
     
  • If cooked for a short period on low heat, bell peppers retain most of their sweet, almost fruity flavour and flavonoid content, which is a powerful nutrient.
     
  •  Bell peppers also contain vitamin B6 which is essential for the health of the nervous system and helps renew cells.
     
  • Certain enzymes in bell peppers, such as lutein, protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration later in life.

The Ultimate Stuffed Artichoke

 

Prep Time: 45 mins   Cook Time: 20 mins Total: 1 hour 5 mins

Serves two as an entree and four as an appetizer

 

Ingredients

  • 2 large, washed and dried artichokes-about 1 lb each
  • Juice from 3 lemons (approx ½ cup)
  •  ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  •  6 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  •  3 tablespoons minced garlic
  •  1/3 cup dry white wine
  •  4 cups fresh bread crumbs
  •  ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  •  1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Instructions

1.     Fill a steamer pot with a few inches of water and place a steamer basket on top. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let simmer.

2.     Use a Chef’s knife to cut off about 1-inch from the top of each artichoke and enough off of the bottom to form a nice base. Remove any tough outer leaves and discard them.  Use kitchen scissors to cut the sharp tips off the bracts.

3.     Using your hands, carefully pull the leaves away from the middle of the artichoke, just enough so you can see inside of the choke. Use a spoon to gently scrape away the choke and discard, to reveal a clean heart (see image below) Drizzle about 1 table spoon of lemon juice over each one.

4.     Place the artichokes, stem-end up, in the steamer basket, cover and steam until they are almost as tender as you like them (about 20 min, they’re finish cooking in the oven). Check for doneness by pulling off an outer leaf – it should come off easily. Set aside to cool when finished.

5.     While artichokes are steaming, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

6.     Melt butter in a large sauté pan over low-medium heat. Let simmer until it begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft.  Pour in 1/3 cup lemon juice and the wine. Stir and let simmer on low heat for 4 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and parsley, stir to blend and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

7.     Place artichokes, sitting on their base in a baking dish.

8.     Use spoon and/or hands to carefully fill the center of each artichoke with the stuffing – fill to maximum capacity then fill the spaces between the leaves as much as possible. Sprinkle the top of each one with about half the Parmesan.

9.     Place the stuffed artichokes in the preheated oven and bake at 375 degrees F until the breadcrumbs are golden and the cheese has melted-approximately 15-20 minutes.

10.  This dish can be served whole as an entree or sliced in half as an appetizer

11.  Enjoy!

Baked artichoke 2.jpg

It’s All about the Sauce!

In last week’s post, you learned about three simple and different ways to cook artichokes.  This post includes three extremely tasty dipping sauces that you can use with artichokes as an appetizer.  These recipes are also nice and simple, so they add to the flavour of the artichoke instead of overpowering it. Each of these recipes makes enough for four artichokes.

 

Lemon-Thyme Butter

In a small bowl stir together:

  •  ½ cup of melted butter (1 stick)
  •  1 tsp dried thyme
  •  1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

 

Easy Hollandaise

In a blender combine:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp warm water
  •  1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  •  ¾ tsp coarse salt
  • Blend until frothy

Heat ½ cup (1 stick) butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbly (do not let brown).  With blender running, pour in hot butter in a very thin stream, blending until sauce is thick and emulsified.

 

Garlic Mayonnaise

In a small bowl stir together:

  • ¾ cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves (garlic press works best here)
  • Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

How to Prepare an Artichoke

 

Choosing a Fresh Artichoke:  Select artichokes that are weighty for their size, have closed leaves (bracts) and are deep green in colour. If the bracts are open, the artichoke may not be fresh.  When artichokes are bought in the spring, they are from the freshest crops.

Preparing Artichokes:  Prepare a large bowl of warm water and squeeze two lemons into it, then set aside. Rinse the artichokes with cold water, lightly scrubbing them to remove any dirt or sand. Trim the stem of the artichoke, but do not cut off the entire steam (unless a specific recipe calls for it) because it is an edible and flavourful extension of the artichoke heart.  Peeloff any small bracts near the base of the artichoke.  Next, chop about 1 to 1 ½ inches off the top, and a pair of kitchen shears to trim the thorny ends of the remaining bracts. Place the trimmed and cleaned artichokes into the bowl of lemon water to prevent them from any discolouration.

Cooking Artichokes (3 basic ways)

1.     Boiling

a.     Put a large pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil and add salt.

b.     Drop artichokes carefully into the pot once the water has begun to boil and leave them to cook for 30-45 minutes.

c.     Drain artichokes with the stem up before serving.

2.     Steaming

a.     Place a couple inches of water into a pot to boil with a steaming basket on top. Add some lemon juice and salt to flavour the water if you prefer.

b.     Drop artichokes into the pot once the water begins to boil and steams for 15-20 minutes.

c.     Drain artichokes with stem up before serving.

3.     Grilling

a.     Slice the artichokes in half lengthwise.

b.     Discard the choke, which is the inedible part just above the heart, it looks like a bunch of tiny hairs.

c.     Drizzle or brush the artichoke with olive oil and place it on the grill carefully, turning it once to get colour on both sides.

More about artichokes!

 

As we learned last week, the artichoke is part of the thistle family.  The part of the artichoke we see in grocery stores is actually a flower bud, sometimes called a head. What is a bit more confusing is that most recipes call for peeling the “leaves” of the artichoke, but the real leaves are the silvery green ones from the artichoke plant itself.  So if we are eating a flower bud, can we call the outer layer “leaves”? Instead, a better term is bracts, which are scale-like structures that protect the flower.

 

Artichoke leaves

It’s amazing that the edible part of the artichoke bus is so small compared to the rest of it.  The prize of an artichoke is its heart, the tender flesh at the base of the bud. Every time you peel one of the bracts of, a piece of the heart goes with it.  Right above the heart is the choke, a crown of pointy fibers, which resemble hair. If it is left to bloom, the beautiful purple florets of an artichoke will flower.

 

Artichoke Flower

 

The choke of a young bud is soft and sometimes edible especially in a baby artichoke (a smaller fully developed bud that grows lower on the stem after the larger bud has formed).  For comparison, the choke on the left is from a young bud that is fully developed and ready for picking. This is the most desirable stage.  The choke on the right is from a more mature bud.  The bracts are starting to open up and there is a more prominent purple tinge. The mature buds can be eaten as well, but it takes more work to the move the choke.

 

Choke Comparison

 

Now that you know your anatomy, stay tuned for ways to prepare an artichoke as well as some tasty recipes!

All about Artichokes!

 

Artichokes are a very versatile food. Although some would consider them a vegetable, they are actually an unusual variety of thistle. An artichoke is at its eating prime as an immature flower. The largest globe is on top of the plant, and smaller ones grown beneath.   Primary consumption of artichokes is due to their associated benefits of protecting against various forms of cancer, bolstering immune system strength, lowering cholesterol and protecting against diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. Artichokes have also been known to help in detoxifying the body and improving the health of the liver, and aiding digestive issues. This amazing little thistle can also reduce blood pressure and stimulate urination.

Artichokes are known in their natural form as cardoon, their scientific classification is Cynara cardunculus, and it is native to the Mediterranean region, which is primarily why artichokes play such a major part of their cuisine on a number of levels. Artichokes can be found throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas, but they are less frequently encountered in Asian nations.

The edible parts of the artichoke are buds that form within the flower head, before it fully blooms. The timing is key in cultivating artichokes, as they turn hard and nearly inedible once the flower has fully bloomed. Also, one of the most sought after parts of the thistle is the “heart”, which is the base from which the other buds spring. It is often considered a delicacy, or at least the most delicious part of the plant, and is typically more expensive.

Artichokes are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, while being a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The vitamins they contain include vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, B12, A, E, D, and K.  Artichokes also provide minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus.

 

Crispy Baked Avocado Fries and Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 20 min

Serves: 2

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large avocado sliced
  • Juice of ½ lime (optional)
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  •  ¼ cup flour
  •  1 3gg, lightly beaten
  •  1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp oil

Instructions:

  1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 Degree F. Pour 1 tablespoon oil in sheet try or baking dish; set aside.
  2. Squeeze fresh lime juice on avocado slices to preserve their colour while baking (this step is optional). Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour then dip in egg and coat in panko and breadcrumbs. Be sure the avocado slices are coated very well in the panko.
  3. Place in a single layer on the greased sheet pan. Drizzle with remaining oil or spray with cooking spray. This will help the avocados crisp in the oven.
  4.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the avocados are golden and crispy. If desired, more oil can be drizzled if they are baking for additional crispness.
  5. These avocado froes will last in the fridge for up to 24 hours and are excellent when re-heated in a toaster oven.

 

Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce plus 1 tsp sauce (canned)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  •  1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  •  ¼ tsp ground cumin
  •  ¼ tsp dried dill
  •  Kosher salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth-about 2-3 minutes.  It should be nice and creamy.
  2. Pour into a jar or small bowl and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.  Be sure to keep it in the fridge!

ENJOY!

What kind of fruit is the avocado?

Question: What kind of fruit is the avocado?

Answer: A single-seeded berry.

Question: Why a berry?

Answer: For reasons that are discussed below.

A fruit is the matured ovary of a flower. Basically, it consists of the ovary wall, or pericarp, which encloses one or more seeds (see figure right). The pericarp is differentiated into three layers of tissues: the outer layer is exocarp, which commonly is called the skin or rind. The middle layer is mesocarp which, generally,makes up the bulk of the pericarp. The inner layer is endocarp which, in some fruits is tough, leathery or hard, in other fruits is soft or fleshy.

 

FruitBerry.jpg

All fruits may be classified into two broad categories: dry, and fleshy. The avocado falls into the latter category.
There are two main classes of fleshy fruits: drupes and berries. Drupes are characterized by having a fleshy mesocarp but a tough-leathery or bony endocarp. They are said to have "stones" or "pits" rather than seeds (example: peaches). Also, a drupe usually has only a single seed. Berries, to the contrary, are characterized by having a fleshy endocarp, as well as mesocarp, and may have more than one seed.

If one examines an avocado fruit cut longitudinally, as above, he sees that the exocarp is the skin or rind. It may be vary thin as in Mexican race avocados or thick and almost woody as in some of the large Guatemalan race fruits. The mesocarp is fleshy and makes up the bulk of the pericarp. The endocarp is thin, often not well differentiated from the mesocarp, and sometimes imperceptible. In some soft ripe avocados, it may adhere to the outer seed coat when the seed coat when the seed is removed from the fruit,giving the seed a sort of frosty appearance.

Now, if we go back to the introductory questions we can see why the answer to what kind of fruit is it? and why is it a berry? is: because it fits all the botanical criteria for that class of fruits.

Source:
W. B. Storey.  What Kind of Fruit is the Avocado?  California Avocado Society Yearbook 1973-74.  Pages 70-71.

 

 

5 Avocado Health Facts

1. Avocados are packed with carotenoids 

Avocados are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that works as an antioxidant and helps protect against eye disease. They also contain the related carotenoids zeaxanthin, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as tocopherol (vitamin E).

But avocados aren’t just a rich source of carotenoids by themselves—they also help you get more of these nutrients from other foods. Carotenoids are lipophilic (soluble in fat, not water), so eating carotenoid-packed foods like fruits and vegetables along with monounsaturated-fat-rich avocados helps your body absorb the carotenoids. An easy way to do this is to add sliced avocado to a mixed salad.

 

2. Avocados can help you lose weight 

Half an avocado contains 3.4 grams of fibre, including soluble and insoluble, both of which your body needs to keep the digestive system running smoothly. Plus, soluble fibre slows the breakdown of carbohydrates in your body, helping you feel full for longer.

Avocados also contain oleic acid, a fat that activates the part of your brain that makes you feel full. Healthier unsaturated fats containing oleic acid have been shown to produce a greater feeling of satiety than less-healthy saturated fats and trans fats found in processed foods

 

3. Avocados can help stabilize blood sugar

Rich, creamy, and packed with beneficial monounsaturated fat, avocado slows digestion and helps keep blood sugar from spiking after a meal. A diet high in good fats may even help reverse insulin resistance, which translates to steadier blood sugar long-term. Try putting mashed avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise or on bread instead of butter. To keep what’s left over from turning brown, spritz the flesh with cooking spray or coat with lemon juice and wrap in plastic.

 

4. Avocados can protect your unborn baby and your heart 

One cup of avocado provides almost a quarter of your recommended daily intake of folate, a vitamin which cuts the risk of birth defects. If you’re pregnant—or planning to be—avocados will help protect your unborn baby.

A high folate intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Does your family have a history of heart problems, or do you have risk factors (such as being overweight or smoking) for heart disease? Avocados could help keep your heart healthy.

 

5. Avocados can help lower your cholesterol 

As well as increasing feelings of fullness, the oleic acid in avocados can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals eating an avocado-rich diet had a significant decrease in total cholesterol levels, including a decrease in LDL cholesterol. Their levels of HDL cholesterol (the healthy type) increased by 11 percent.

High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The cholesterol-lowering properties of avocado, along with its folate content, help keep your heart healthy.

Advantage of Avocados

Avocados are the darling of the produce section. They’re the go-to ingredient for guacamole dips at parties. And they're also turning up in everything from salads and wraps to smoothies and even brownies. So what, exactly, makes this pear-shaped berry (yes, that’s right!) such a super food?

Avocados offer nearly 20 vitamins and minerals in every serving, including potassium (which helps control blood pressure), lutein (which is good for your eyes), and folate (which is crucial for cell repair and during pregnancy). They are a good source of B vitamins, which help you fight off disease and infection. They also give you vitamins C and E, plus natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.

Avocados are low in sugar. They also contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. In one study, people who added a fresh avocado half to their lunch were less interested in eating during the next three hours.

Avocados are high in fat. But it's monounsaturated fat, which is a "good" fat that helps lower bad cholesterol, as long as you eat them in moderation. Avocados have a lot of calories. The recommended serving size is smaller than you’d expect: 1/5 of a medium avocado (or 1 ounce) is 50 calories

How to Prepare Avocados

Make sure avocados are stored at room temperature, keeping in mind that they can take 4 to 5 days to ripen. To speed up the ripening process, put them in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. When the outside skins are black or dark purple and yield to gentle pressure, they’re ready to eat or refrigerate.

Wash them before cutting so dirt and bacteria aren’t transferred from the knife onto the pulp.

While guacamole is arguably the most popular way to eat avocado, you can also puree and toss with pasta, substitute for butter or oil in your favorite baked good recipes, or spread or slice onto sandwiches.

When ordering at a restaurant, remember that not all avocado dishes are created equal. Some items -- like avocado fries and avocado egg rolls -- are coated in batter and fried, making them much higher in both calories and fat.

Our Yogurt Recipe Picks

Canadian Yogurt
Makes: 1 serving, ¾ cup  Prep Time: 5 minutes
Dips are a great way to jazz up yogurt and they make a great addition to a fruit or vegetable snack! The following dip is super quick and easy and pairs well with any fruit of your choice.

Ingredients:
• ¾ cup plain, low fat yogurt
• 1 tablespoon crushed pecans
• 1 tablespoon maple syrup
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 apple, cored and cut into wedges, or other fruit of your choice

Directions:
• In a bowl, stir together yogurt, pecans, maple syrup and cinnamon.
• Serve with apple wedges or other fruit to dip into.

Recipe and Image Source: Eat Right Ontario

Greek Tzatziki
Yield: Approximately 4 ½ cups  
Prep Time: 3+ hours
If you are looking for a dip to liven up your veggies instead, this easy tzatziki sauce is sure to please! This dip gets better with time so it is best if made in advance.

Ingredients:
• 4 cups (32 ounce) Greek yogurt
• 1/2 English cucumber with peel, grated
• 1 clove garlic, pressed
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill*
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

• Stir together yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Add lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper; whisk until smooth. Pour into a serving dish, cover tightly, and refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.
* Don’t have fresh dill? No problem! Just substitute 1 tablespoon of dried dill.
Recipe and Image Source: allrecipes.com

Chicken and Sweet Pepper Curry
Yield: 4 servings  Prep Time: 20 minutes
Yogurt is perfectly paired with curry in the following mouth-watering main that is sure to be a hit. The best part? This meal can be ready in less than a half an hour!

Ingredients:
• 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
• 1 tsp (5 mL) ground curry powder
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric
• 4 half chicken breasts, skinned, deboned and cut in 3
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1/4 cup (60 mL) sodium-reduced chicken broth
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste
• 1 red and/or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
• 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) plain Greek yogurt
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• Fresh coriander, to taste

Directions:
• In large frying pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add curry and turmeric. Salt chicken, place in frying pan and cook 3 minutes. Turn chicken over, add garlic and onion and cook 3 minutes. Add broth and tomato paste, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
• Add bell pepper and cook 3 minutes. Remove chicken. Remove a spoonful of the sauce and stir it into yogurt. Mix cornstarch with a little water. Add to sauce. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add yogurt. Reheat without boiling and adjust seasoning. Serve with basmati rice and fresh vegetables. Garnish with coriander if desired.
Recipe Source: Dairy goodness

Layered Yogurt Pops
Yield: 8 servings  Prep Time: 15 minutes
For a delicious snack to tide you over or a healthy dessert to finish of your meal, yogurt popsicles are sure to be a hit with adults and children alike. Try changing the yogurt, juice and fruit every time for a tasty treat that never gets old!

Ingredients:
• 1 cup (250 mL) Pure fruit juice like cranberry or cherry
• 1 ½ cups (375 mL) Low fat strawberry yogurt
• 1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, or chopped strawberries.

Directions:
• Divide juice among 8 small plastic cups. Add a spoonful of yogurt into cups and top with a few berries. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients.
• Cover each cup with some plastic wrap and pierce through plastic with craft stick. Freeze overnight or until solid.

Tips:
• Smooth Option: Combine yogurt, juice and fruit in blender and puree until smooth. Pour into plastic cups and continue with recipe.
• Use any of your favourite fruit like chopped oranges, bananas, apples or pears to add a different texture and flavour to your pops.
• Look for 175 mL (5 oz) Dixie cups in your local grocery store. Craft sticks make strong handles for popsicles and are available at dollar stores and craft stores.
Recipe and Image Source: Eat Right Ontario


For more great yogurt recipes check out Canadian Living, Eat Right Ontario, and Dairy goodness.

Food of the Month: Yogurt

As an on the go snack or addition to a meal, yogurt can’t be beat! High in protein, bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamins B1, B2, and B12, yogurt is a fantastic way to fuel your body while pleasing your taste buds. With many varieties and flavours available, yogurt is especially great for kids that can sometimes be picky eaters as there is sure to be a style they like! But with all of the different types out there it can be difficult to know which kind to choose.

Types of yogurt
Although all yogurt is made with fermented milk, how it is processed results in different styles of yogurt. The 3 main styles of yogurt include:
1. Balkan-style or set-style yogurt has a characteristic thick texture and can be enjoyed plain or in recipes.
2. Swiss-style or stirred yogurt has a creamy, slightly thinner texture and often has fruit or other flavourings added. It is usually eaten as-is or may be added to cold beverages and desserts.
3. Greek-style or Mediterranean yogurt is either made from milk with some of the water removed or by straining a liquid, called whey, from plain yogurt to make it thicker and creamier. Greek yogurt tends to hold up better when heated, making it ideal for cooking, and the thicker consistency makes it great for dips such as Tzatziki!


5 easy ways to add yogurt to your day
1. Layer plain yogurt with fruit, sprinkle with nuts, seeds, or granola to make a parfait.
2. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup or honey for added flavour and a touch of sweetness.
3. Make an easy tzatziki yogurt dip by adding lemon juice, chopped garlic and grated cucumber to Greek yogurt. Spread on wraps or use it as a dip with pita chips or veggies.
4. Blend yogurt with frozen fruit and juice for a delicious smoothie or freeze it for a frozen treat.
5. Substitute yogurt for mayo or sour cream on sandwiches or in your favourite dip and dressing recipes.

For more great ways to include yogurt in your meals and snacks visit Dairy goodness and Eat Right Ontario and look for the 100% Canadian Milk symbol to guarantee you are getting products made from Canadian milk!

Sources: Dairy goodness, Eat Right Ontario.




Roasted Chickpeas

If you’ve always been a fan of chickpeas and throw them into stir fry recipes, pasta, soup and even baked goods…just wait until you try roasted chickpeas. Your love for this versatile legume is guaranteed to grow! 

Crispy chickpeas are super easy to make and, with the variety of seasoning options available, are a fun way to get the kids experimenting in the kitchen. Whether you eat them as a snack, or as a topping on salads, soups and more, roasted chickpeas are a great way to add some crunch, protein and fibre to your diet!

Crunchy Chickpeas 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil, canola or olive
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place chickpeas on a paper towel or clean tea towel and pat until completely dry. Try not to rub the skins off.
  3. Toss in a bowl with oil and spices and spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the pan and give it a gentle shake to roll the chickpeas around.
  5. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until chickpeas are crispy.
  6. Let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 days or add to salads and soups while still warm.

Food of the Month: Chickpeas!

February's Food of the Month have a mild nutty taste, and are a good source of protein, dietary fibre and folate. Just one serving (¾ cup) of chickpeas counts as a meat alternative and can be a wonderful compliment to many dishes. 

Grown in Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, chickpeas help contribute to a local, sustainable food system. Chickpeas have a low carbon footprint and, compared to other crops, use half the non-renewable energy. Plus, buying Canadian products helps support our farmers and economy!

Using Chickpeas 

Chickpeas can be bought canned or dried. Canned chickpeas should be stored in a cool, dry place and rinsed before use to reduce the sodium content. Dried chickpeas should be used within a year of purchasing and soaked overnight before cooking. The longer chickpeas are stored, the drier they become, which will increase cooking time. 

Tips for Soaking Chickpeas

  1. Check the dried chickpeas for pebbles or other foreign objects and discard any that are shriveled or have broken skin.
  2. Use 3 cups of water for every cup of chickpeas and soak for at least 4 hours (8 is ideal).
  3. Discard the soaking water when finished and rinse the chickpeas well. The soaking water contains carbohydrates and sugars that cause gas, so this will help reduce the discomfort and bloating that can sometimes accompany eating beans.

For more information, visit EatRight Ontario and stay tuned for some great chickpea recipes! 

Pumpkin Meatloaf with Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

With a fall twist on an old classic, this isn't your grandmother's meatloaf! Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you. It's such an easy recipe to make. Just mash everything together and form into a loaf. 

Ingredients

For Meatloaf: 

  • 4 lbs. ground beef
  • Bread crumbs from 3 slices of bread (or 4 ounces pre made) 
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika 

For BBQ Sauce: 

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 °F
  2. Combine all the meatloaf ingredients into a large bowl and mash, squeeze and knead around until mixed. 
  3. Grease the pan and form the loaf inside. 
  4. Bake for about 70 minutes, or until inner temperatures reaches 160°F. 
  5. Combine BBQ sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium until sauce is warm and thick. 
  6. Serve sauce over sliced meatloaf. 

Recipe and photo from Kath Eats Real Food

Other Ways to Add Pumpkin to your Diet: 

  • Add pumpkin puree to your oatmeal, smoothie, pancake or waffle batter.
  • Substitute pumpkin for squash in recipes. 
  • Flavour your yogurt with pureed pumpkin and cinnamon. 
  • Top your soup, salad, granola or oatmeal with roasted pumpkin seeds. 
  • Add pumpkin to your hummus or substitute pumpkin puree for the chickpeas. 

 

Students Bite Into Healthy Eating

Every fall, schools across the country celebrate The Great Big Crunch by simultaneously crunching into delicious, local apples. This community-wide event helps build awareness and support for school nutrition programs and healthy eating. The Great Big Crunch at Sir Arthur Carty Catholic School was also a launch to promote the OSNP's social media campaign #SAYYESTOGOODFOODINSCHOOLS.  

Students, along with MPP Deb Matthews, Mayor Matt Brown and other local figures, took the pledge to say yes to good food in schools. Now, it's your turn! For every pledge received, the OSNP will donate one free breakfast or snack to the nutrition program of your choice. 

Building awareness about the Ontario Student Nutrition Program is the first step to helping us get more healthy food to children in schools. 

Pumpkin Month: Simple Potato Soup


There's nothing better than a cup of warm soup on a cool fall day. This easy pumpkin soup can be made from scratch using only seven ingredients! 

Serve with whole wheat pitas or warm bread for a perfect lunch or light dinner. 

 

Pumpkin Soup.png

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small pumpkins (2 1/4 cups of pumpkin puree)
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 1/4 tsp. each of sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon & nutmeg
     

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut off tops of two pumpkins, halve and scrape out seeds and strings.
  3. Brush flesh with oil and place face down on baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes until soft. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes, peel skin and set pumpkin aside.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, shallot and garlic to a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly browned and translucent.
  5. Add remaining ingredients, including the pumpkin, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Transfer soup mixture to a blender or use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. Pour mixture back into pot.
  7. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes and adjust seasonings to taste.

Recipe and photo from The Minimalist Baker