Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bone Broth

Have you heard of bone broth? It’s supposed to be absolutely amazing for our bodies. It’s different than the crappy broth (or stock) you buy from most grocery stores though. This traditional bone broth takes the bones of an animal (or fish) and simmers them long and slow, so all of the locked-in nutrients get released and what you end up with is a nutrient dense, easily digestible broth that you can use to heal your body.

Bone broth has been used to:

-heal your gut
-reduce inflammation
-boost your immune system
-overcome food tolerances and allergies
-improve your skin
-help you lose fat
-overall increase your health

I have made chicken bone broth before (in the slow cooker) but hadn’t yet tried beef broth. So this weekend, I decided to give it a try and here’s a little photo journaling of how this all turned out. I will say that the smell of both the roasting and simmering was quite strong. Given that I am not a huge red meat eater to begin with, it wasn't a scent that I would say I loved, although it wasn't gross either. It smelled like it should - bones roasting! 

 The bones needed to be rinsed and dried...
 ...and then roasted to maximize flavour
The veggies in the bottom of the slow cooker - bones were placed on top with just enough water to cover it all

I purchased my bones from Innisfail Growers at the Calgary Farmers Market. The bag of bones was in their freezer section (nice and tidy in a "bone broth" bag - along with instructions) and the beef bones were from Edgar Farms, another Alberta farm doing things right with animals:

"Our beef is home raised; we can trace every one of our animals from conception to dinner plate. Our animals are fed only forage and grain grown on our farm at Innisfail Alberta. You have our personal guarantee that our beef is completely free of hormones, antibiotics, meat by-products and pesticides. Our animals are not raised in a “factory-farm” feedlot-type environment. The animals are allowed to graze the pastures on our thousand-acre plus farm rotationally and are finished on barley grown on our farm for the maximum flavour and tenderness. Every one of our animals is raised with the utmost care and kindness."


The bone broth I made was so gelationous that I know I did it well. But because I am not a big beef fan, I think I will stick to the chicken broth and may even try the fish broth at some point –if I do, I will let you know. The bones I purchased cost just under $20 and the end result was about 6-8 cups of broth. 

 Great thing about the slow cooker is that you can walk away from the pot easily. My broth simmered for 24 hours. 
 End result!
 After the broth was done, I put it in the fridge so that the fat would separate (float to the top) and could easily scrape it away. 
Looks disgusting I know. As you can see, it's extremely gelatinous - the desired result. 

References: 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hello Fresh - Rigatoni Caprese

Tonight my daughter and I cooked up the second of three meals from my first Hello Fresh delivery. This was a pasta meal, so a little easier and faster than the previous one...and I did add some extra veg (zucchini and mushrooms) that I had here at home to the meal. Again, it was quite good - needed a little S&P at the end, but I must say that so far I am impressed. 

 Here's the spread - minus the fresh pasta. Sadly, I instead of fresh pasta I subbed some of my own gluten free pasta for my husband and daughter.
My dish. Finished with some delicious buffalo mozzarella, basil and pine nuts. 

Also, I received a reply yesterday from Hello Fresh, regarding my meat/protein inquiry. I was pretty happy with their response. They noted that they source from these two places: 


I hope that their website information accurately depicts their actual practices, as they sound like decent places to get proteins from. So I may try one week with a meat option, but we'll see. 

For those of you who are interested in trying this out too, I was sent a promo code that offers a $50 discount on your first box. If you're interested, feel free to use "STAYAT" when you check out. If anyone ends up trying this, please let me know. I am curious to know what other people's experiences and opinions of this are. 

Have a great day! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hello Fresh

You guys, I am SO EXCITED about a ‘new thing’ I just tried. It’s called “Hello Fresh” and it’s a meal-prep delivery service that is now serving Canada. I decided to give it a try just for fun, and my first shipment arrived today. I want to tell you about my experience!

When setting up your delivery, the first thing you do is select from either a Veggie, Pronto, or Family Plan and each comes with three meals. I opted for the Veggie plan as I want to know exactly where my protein comes from. I felt that if I wanted to add in protein after the fact, that it was an easy thing to do - and that’s exactly what I did tonight actually. (I did email them asking where they get their meat/chicken/fish from and haven't heard back yet. I'm not about to start ordering anything other than the veggie, but I wanted to make a point that consumers want to know if the protein is hormone free, free range, etc. When I hear back, I will let you know).  

Here's what's inside... 
 Tonight's Recipe
 Contents
 All sorted...Ta Da!
 My little helper - grating the ginger
 Everything chopped and ready to go
 Little chef at work
 Stir-fry!
End result, with the brown rice and my salmon


Here’s what I loved about it:
-Everyone loves getting “mail” and when the mail is a big box of food, who wouldn’t be happy about THAT?!
-It turned out to be a FANTASTIC way for my daughter and I to make a meal together. It still required a fair amount of ‘prep’ but having everything pretty much laid out and ready to go, along with a recipe for us to follow was actually quite brilliant. Cooking together is something that I wanted to start doing more of, and this was an excellent way to do it. I don't often buy eggplant, and so she learned more about a new-er-to-her food also! Bonus. 
-It provides some diversity to my regular weekly meals and it’s awesome that someone else has essentially decided what to make, found the recipe, and put together all the ingredients. One of the reasons for trying this service was simple to try new things!
-I’m an average cook at best, so having a fairly easy recipe to follow was perfect.
-The meal itself turned out to be quite delicious!

Here’s what I didn’t love:
-Seems like a fair amount of packaging waste (i.e. all the little bags, the box it was shipped in, and the ice packs that came with it). 
-Some of the ingredients were starting to look a little ‘tired’ (i.e. the chopped red onion and the ginger).
-I don’t always choose organic veg, but I quite often do, and these obviously weren’t organic…I really don't have a clue WHERE any of the foods are from actually, so for me, this is a big negative. 

The meal I chose for tonight was the Hoisin Stir-Fry. It was easy to follow and required about 15 minutes of up front prep. Since I had picked up some of my most favorite salmon from the North Sea Fish Market today, I opted to make a little soy/Asian sauce to go on top and it was a perfect complement for this meal.

It was all done in about 35-40 minutes (as it states), and while it was dairy free, it wasn’t gluten free.


Overall, this was super fun and the next two dishes for this week look good also. I purchased the box for next week as it has some really amazing looking meals too. At this point (only after making one meal…) I would recommend it to a family looking to “spice things up” in the kitchen, or a family looking for some convenience options. I'll post the other meals as I make them. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Thai Manna

After cooking and enjoying yet another great curry from Thai Manna last night, I decided that it qualifies for one of my Go-To dinners, and that you all should know about it! If you may recall, my Go-To dinners need to fit these requirements: They need to be simple, healthy, delicious, fairly quick and easy to prepare (also free of dairy and gluten). These Thai curries fit the bill!



Thai food is tricky. I know. I have been trying to replicate (unsuccessfully) my most favorite Thai dish (Yellow Thai Curry) from my most favorite Thai restaurant here in Calgary (Chili Club ThaiHouse). The problem with some of these dishes is that the ingredients can be somewhat obscure, making finding them a challenge, and in many cases you only need a tiny bit of this or that, (and then what the heck are you going to do with the rest)?

Anyway, Thai Manna offers a solution to this exact problem, and sells these absolutely brilliant little curry kits so that you can make an authentic curry in your own home in a quick amount of time. (It’s also a great idea for vegetarians because you can leave out the meat, but the curry paste are made with shrimp paste and the kits contain fish sauce so it’s not perfect for vegans).

In my yellow curry last night, I added a zucchini, onions, garlic, broccoli, baby corn, tomatoes, cooked chicken (from a roast chicken meal a couple nights ago) and then threw in some cilantro. It was delicious – and nutritious!

I ordered this last kit through SPUD.ca (another great tool for busy lives) but I actually purchased my first kit at the Spruce Meadows Craft Fair this past November. If you don’t want to use SPUD.ca, there are a number of other ways that you can pick up a kit, which you can find listed on their website http://www.thaimanna.com/pick-up-locations/

If you happen to try one, please let me know how you liked it and what veggies you added! 

Spin and Healthy Eating: 17 Parallels!

I started spinning almost two years ago. The first couple of times I went, I hated it. But I knew I needed to add some lo...