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Sep 1, 2015

Five reasons to enjoy fresh peaches this summer



While sweating through an Ontario heatwave, I found nothing more enjoyable than relaxing by the water with a cold peach. As many of us know, the juice from a fresh peach inevitably ends up running down your chin, but it's worth it - not only for the taste, but also for the iron, potassium, niacin and vitamin C the fruit provides.

Five more reasons to enjoy fresh peaches while they're in season
1. They may help prevent respiratory infections: Peaches are packed full of vitamin C, which has been shown to not only boost your entire immune system, but also specifically to prevent lung infections. Make the most of your summer by stocking up these delicious treats to ward off a dreaded summer cold.

2. Peaches could help with weight loss: Besides being packed full of fiber and water, peaches are also very high in beta-carotene. Recent studies have suggested that beta-carotene plays a role in up-regulating some aspects of the fat-burning process. So try trading in dessert for a fresh peach and keep your weight loss goals on track.

3. They're a source of magnesium: Magnesium has the ability to relax our muscles, both small and large. This makes magnesium especially important in the relaxation of the tiny muscles that contract blood vessels and ease tension. Magnesium helps to relieve migraine headaches and symptoms of muscle tension and inflammation.

4. Potassium-rich peaches are the perfect summer snack: Peaches are high in potassium, which is especially important in the summer due to the heat. In the summertime we lose a lot of water through our sweat; along with that water loss. we also lose many salts that conduct the electrical signals in our body. Potassium is a mineral salt that we lose quite a bit of, so it must be constantly replenished - especially when exercising!

5. Peaches are a rich source of niacin: Niacin is a B vitamin necessary for the metabolism of every cell of you body. Niacin is also being tested as an anti-cancer treatment because of its amazing ability to kill cells in our body that are compromised by cancer, lowering our risk of growth and metastasis.

Peachy keen crisp

This is a great gluten-free summer treat. The combination of summer berries and peaches is a great one for entertaining. You can give them a gift twice - first with the taste, and secondly with the nutritional healing power of the ingredients.

Filling ingredients:
6 cups (1.5 L) organic fresh or frozen strawberries, halved
6 cups (1.5 L) fresh organic peaches, sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) organic goji berries
1 cup (250 mL) unsweetened berry juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) clove powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) nutmeg powder

Topping ingredients:
1 cup (250 mL) quinoa flakes (rolled oats can be substituted)
1/2 cup (125 mL) brown rice flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) honey
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ginger powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pink rock or grey sea salt
4 tbsp (60 mL) coconut butter, cut into eight pieces

Filling directions:
1. Preheat the oven at 350°F (175 °C).

2. In a medium bowl combine the strawberries, apples, peaches, and goji berries. Add the berry juice, lemon juice, cloves, and nutmeg.

3. Toss thoroughly and transfer to a 9" x 13" baking dish.

Topping directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa flakes, brown rice flour, hazelnuts, maple syrup, mesquite powder, maca powder, cinnamon, ginger, and sea salt. Place the coconut butter on top of the flour mixture. Using your hand, blend until the mixture looks like coarse meal.

2. Sprinkle the topping evenly and loosely over the fruit mixture, leaving fruit visible in a few spots for the juices to bubble up.

3. Transfer to the oven. Bake the crisp for 45 minutes or until the top is brown and the fruit juices are bubbling at the edges.
Makes 12 servings

Chicken in a crock pot

About a year or so ago, I had some friends over for a dinner party and decided to make a roast chicken. Sure, the whole thing sounded simple — overnight brining in salt water, a day of drying and dusting with herbs, a few hours in the oven and a couple of minutes to rest. Easy, right?

In actuality, it was exhausting! I was so pooped from the chicken prep that I could barely keep my eyes open through dessert. Sure, the chicken was really good, but the whole almost-24-hour process made it totally unrealistic for a Sunday dinner, let alone a weekday night.

And then I found this slow cooker chicken over at Weelicious. I tried the recipe and loved the super-moist texture of the chicken, but wasn't crazy about the zingy lemon flavour or the slightly anemic looking bird. So I came up with my own variation and haven't looked back since. Two and a half hours in the old crock pot followed by a 10-minute broil gives me perfectly roast chicken every time — without having to brine, baste or worry.

Raw chicken in the slow cooker, with celery, carrots, garlic, onion, wine and spices.
You need:
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 1 celery stalk, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, cut in half
  • sprinkle of herbs de provence, thyme, or herb combination of your choice
  • tin foil

The slow cooked chicken right before broiling. It would still be tasty to eat it like this, but I like the crispy skin a bout in the oven gives me.
  1. Crumple three pieces of aluminum foil and place in the middle of your slow cooker.
  2. Add wine, garlic, onion, celery and carrot
  3. Place chicken on top of aluminum foil. (You may have to push the chicken down a bit so it'll all fit in there!)
  4. Sprinkle chicken with herbs, salt and pepper.
  5. Set slow cooker to high and cook for 1/2 hour per pound.
  6. When ready, stick a meat thermometer into leg to ensure it is done. Transfer chicken to a roasting pan and set oven to 500º Fahrenheit.
  7. Broil for 8-10 minutes, or until skin is golden brown.
  8. Serve with roast root vegetables, mashed potatoes, or anything else you'd like!
The best part of this recipe? After your done cooking everything, you'll have a considerable amount of jus left over from the chicken. Whisk it with some cornstarch for a truly delicious gravy, or save it in your fridge or freezer for at-the-ready soup stock when you need it in a pinch. (It's so much better than bouillon.)

Yup, chicken in a crock pot is the gift that keeps on giving.

Aug 26, 2015

Vitamin Water Infusions

Creating your own vitamin water is one of the simplest things to do! All you need is some fruit, herbs and water and you are set. Don't settle for the "vitamin waters" you might notice in grocery stores. Those waters are full of artificial chemical flavourings, plenty of refined sugar and bone dissolving acids all of which promote illness and disease. 
Making your own vitamin water infusions is quick and easy! They are packed with natural vitamins and minerals (not synthetic alterations of them) and thus they are better recognized and utilized in the body. Make sure to create larger batches so that these waters will last you all throughout the week!
1. Pick a non-citrus fruit - I like to pick things like berries, kiwi, mango or pineapple. 
2. Pick a citrus fruit - you can choose from orange slices to lemon or lime slices!
3. Add herbs - choose things like mint, rosemary, basil or other favourite herbs
Once you have decided on the combination you want to use (and you may add as little or as much as you please of each - I like to add in about 1/2 cup of each fruit and 1/4 cup of herbs for 2 litres of water), put them into a large jug of water and let them soak in the water in a fridge overnight. In the morning you will have yourself a wonderful vitamin infused water that you can enjoy over the day!
Favourite combinations of mine:
1. Strawberry, lemon, mint
2. Lemon, lime, mint
3. Kiwi, lemon, lime, mint
4. Pineapple, lemon, basil
5. Mango, orange, rosemary
*You may also choose to add some ice to your water for an even cooler treat!
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