Get Your Veggies with All-Season Salads

There’s a tendency, perhaps precipitated by cooking magazines, to move off of salads this time of year, and focus on warmer fare, like soups or stews. I know that this seems logical, but there are so many great veggies available now, that it seems a shame to only eat them cooked. Sure, local lettuce may be less available. What I’m suggesting is that if you have the privilege of accessing fresh fruit and veg in your local market, please do take advantage.

What I am not saying is that everyone is as fortunate as we are in Toronto. A head of hydroponic Canadian lettuce is out of reach for many families. Heck, there are some places (not in far-off lands, but here in our own country), where fresh produce of any sort is just not in the store, or it costs so much that you can’t possibly afford se it to feed your family. This is a travesty. Please speak out about this.

And while we are on the subject of hunger, if you do have enough, do support your local food bank or soup kitchen. You would be amazed how far they can make a dollar go. I learned from one of them that they can get wholesale prices, making better use of their money, although I’m a big advocate of having your kids choose foods from the store, so they learn about sharing and healthy choices). When our kids were small, we started emptying our coins into a jar at the end of the day. Once a month, we would use this money to buy food bank food. We still give regularly, even though the kids are grown.

If you have all these ingredients, make a great salad. If you don’t, I’m not giving a recipe. Try using whatever veg you can get. If you have frozen veg, give them a quick refresh under cold water rather than cooking. Or if you have “winter veg” (beets, carrots, turnips, cabbage), shred them. Use leftovers. They’re all good. Here is what I did today:

Chopped some hydroponic butter head lettuce onto a plate.

Diced celery and yellow pepper (both “ugly vegetables”  ). Use whatever veg you have, truly. Serve in a bowl if necessary, and use a spoon instead of a fork.

Drizzled with this dressing:

2t/10ml Dijon – it emulsifies, thickens, adds flavour

1T/15ml vinegar

2t/10ml canola oil (it’s Canadian!)

Next add some protein. I had cheddar. You might have hard-boiled egg, tofu,  beans, nuts, seitan, or leftover pork chop. No matter. Protein builds muscle and helps your blood pressure stay regulated. Not too much! A couple of ounces. It’s lunch!

Here’s what it looked like, when it was done. Enjoy. Use stuff up. Appreciate what you have, and give someone else a hand.

Have an awesome day!

Crunch Fall Salad


Let's root, root, root for the team!

Spring is coming, we believe, although the weather is being uncooperative. Here’s a grest dish for the last of those winter veg.

This is a lovely vegetable gratin. The directions are unspecific…yet easy. 

Heat the oven to 400F.

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil spray. 

Now begin…

Slice some vegetables thinly, by hand or with a mandolin or food processor.  Layer them in the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle with herbs, pepper, nutmeg, or other tasty bits. Grate or crumble on a scanty bit of cheese (this is not a cheap discount pizza)!

Repeat for 4 to 6 layers. At learn every second layer should be a root veg, to give body to the thing. Ours was purely potato, carrot, beet and parsnip. But kale, tomato, onion or beans are great additions as long as there are sliced veg on the top and bottom.

Press the top layer down. Then, grate on some real grated Parmesan – it adds a richness that no other cheese can match.

Bake for 45 minutes with a cover, the remove the cover and give it 15 minutes more. Let it cool 5 minutes before serving. Also great served cold the next day.

Grammy's Onion Pork Chops – 2016 Style


It starts with some simple sliced onions – in this case a yellow onion, but any colour or type will do. For two, we used half a very large onion.

These are browned in a pan with some olive oil (Grammy would have used butter, but it’s much more inclined to burn).


Don’t be afraid to use a regular (not non-stick) pan – it will give much better colour to the dish. Cook the onion until it is a little more caramelized than these, then add the pork chops. We bought the onion and the chops from our local butcher, Mark, at St. Jamestown Steak and Chops. We don’t eat much meat any more, so when we do, we like to make sure it’s good quality.


Raise the heat a bit, and brown the chops on both sides. When they have some good colour, and the bits in the bottom of your pan are turning a nice brown, deglaze with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of wine or vermouth. We used vermouth. Grammy would have used neither. She also would have used a lot more salt, but we love the natural taste of the meat and the onions.

Next, add about 1/2 a cup of water, cover and simmer about 20 minutes over low heat – your chops will relax and become very tender.

Stir in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch that you’ve dissolved in a bit of water. Raise the heat to medium and stir, just until the juices become clear again and a delicious, oniony gravy has formed.

We served ours with mashed sweet potatoes and a simple salad of local hothouse mixed greens and cucumber, dressed with equal parts walnut oil, Kozlik’s Old Smokey, and homemade white wine vinegar.


And we are still eating it…

We have really been focusing on local veg this week. One thing I love to make is a big Asian-inspired slaw. Although it began with a recipe, in truth, it is this simple: 

Grate a bunch of winter veg – think celeriac, carrot, beet, turnip, cabbage. A food processor makes it  easy to do a big bowlful. Toss this with a tablespoon or so of sesame oil, some vinegar (change it up!), grated ginger and garlic – as much as you like, a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, and some sesame seeds, any colour. Beets make an especially eye-catching mix. 

On day one we are it with poached fish. Yesterday we tucked some in our sandwich. And last night, we buried some Whitehouse Meats smoked wild boar sausage in it and baked it for half an hour at 350, covered. It was delicious with mashed blue potatoes.

Don't Waste the Taste!

As part of our “use it up” series, today’s lunch is the remainder of last night’s fish pie.   
It started with leftover celeriac gratin, to which we added some steamed carrots and sliced mushrooms. Any leftover veg would do, though. We also had part of a container of whipping cream, and of course, the last of our amazing roast haddock from Hooked. Again, if you have other leftover fish, or even a tin of wild-caught salmon, this will work nicely. No whipping cream? Try regular milk with a tablespoon of cornstarch stirred in. 

Heat all of this to bubbling over gentle heat in an ovenproof dish, while you heat your oven to 400F

Meanwhile, make the biscuit topping like so:

In a medium bowl, combine 1 c each white flour and whole wheat flour. This makes a thick topping for four, otherwise feel free to halve it! Stir in 1/2 T brown sugar, 2 t baking powder and 1/2 t baking soda. Give a grind of salt and pepper. Quickly stir in 1 c fat free yogurt, just until blended. You may need to knead a couple of times by hand. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat to the size of your casserole. Place on top of the fish filling.

After 15 minutes drop the heat to 350 and bake another 15 minutes. At this point you can turn the heat off and it will stay warm in the oven for another 15-20 if someone is running late. 

Leftovers? Reheat from refrigerator cold by placing in a cold oven. Turn heat to 350. When your oven comes up to 350, time for 15 minutes and you’re set.

Also, the same topping can be rolled into biscuits – skip the pepper and follow the method as given. Roll 1″ thick and cut into circles. Bake on a cookie sheet w parchment at 400 for 20 minutes.)

Like this, but with a local twist…

One of the most important ways to contain your food costs is to never waste. This week, we bought local produce. Yes, the cheese is imported, but we could just have easily used a local variety, if we hadn’t had to use this kind up.

Here’s a link to the original recipe – although practically every ingredient is changed. For the turnip, we used its larger purple and yellow cousin, the rutabaga. We also swapped out the beans for kidney beans we had on hand – in our case cooked without salt and a little chili powder. Red cabbage was swapped for green, and pecorino for Manchego. Even the vinegar was subbed with our homemade wine vinegar.

The result? Every bit as delicious. Vegans can easily use soy cheese,  and although the recipe suggested this as a side, it’s so good, full of fibre and colour that the two of us split it as a main.

Stay tuned as we find more ways to make our limited supply of local produce look fresh and exciting!

Healthy Made Simple

Healthy choices are made out by some to be complicated. They are all about giving up things we love. Instead, let’s think about how we can simplify what we eat.

We have half a leftover roast chicken in the fridge. (Learn to roast it yourself to avoid the excessive salt of the store’s rotisserie version). More on that another day. We also have some beef ragu, some chickpeas, and a selection of seasonal, local veg. This week I’ll post as we work through healthy easy ways to use it all up, and save money, too.

Although we aren’t vegetarians or vegans, I might add that a plant based diet is definitely healthier, IF WE MAKE GOOD CHOICES. So you’ll also see lots of meatless options.

Let’s start with lunch. Frozen whole wheat roti are warmed in the  oven for 5 minutes, and stuffed with this mixture (for two):

1 diced tomato

1 chicken breast, diced, skin removed

1 T/15ml light mayo (not salad dressing, avoid added sugar)

1 T/15ml Dijon mustard

Serve with a glass of milk or nut milk.

Fresh Winter Flavours

It’s easy to get on a soup kick in the wintertime, but there are still lots of seasonal salad options, even as the cold weather has taken hold. We are fortunate to be able to get local, greenhouse-grown lettuce until spring returns, but cabbage or kale or other winter-hardy greens would work just as well.

Fill your plate with…

2c / 500ml lettuce, washed and torn

Top with

1 pear, sliced

Drizzle with a mixture of 1/2 T or 7ml each 

Dijon mustard 

Crunchy mustard

Olive oil

Cider vinegar

Then grate or crumble 1 oz aged cheddar or other cheese you need to use up since the holidays

And sprinkle with 1T / 15ml chopped walnuts or spiced nuts – (thanks for these @dickiedanger @icfplanetweird) and 1T / 15ml raisins.

Switch out the greens, the pears for apples or citrus, different nuts (or even cooked pulses) and cheese – and your winter salad repertoire will be infinite.



Where's the Veg?

OK, so technically a tomato is a fruit. Nonetheless, a tried and true weight management strategy is to make sure you get some fruit or veg in every meal. We like to add tomato, diced cucumber, or grated carrot to our tuna sandwiches (on whole grain homemade rye bread). Replace half the mayo with Dijon will also give your tuna salad a flavour kick! 

Turkey Apple Caesar

Delicious! We are always inspired to find new ways to use things like a basic roasted turkey. Soups, salads, stews, chilis…it’s all good. Today’s lunch finished off the last of the bird.


For two:

1 package of romaine hearts – chop or leave whole and arrange on plates
Top with:
110g diced roast turkey
1 medium apple
For the dressing, mix:
10ml/2t anchovy paste
15ml/1T each Dijon and lemon juice
30ml/2T fat free plain yogurt
Drizzle over your salad and grate on a light serving of Parmesan cheese.