Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Post Holiday Confessional-Healthy Eating on Isla Mujeres

March3

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Just got back this weekend from our winter break in paradise.  In spite of walking for miles all around the island and eating the whole and healthy food of the locals, my jeans were a little snug this morning and I went back over my tropical diet to figure out why.

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Most breakfasts were eaten in our fabulous little apartment of yoghurt, fresh fruit and granola.  When we are home I select no fat, plain Greek yoghurt, but alas, the Balkan style has not yet hit Isla grocery stores.  We opted instead for vanilla yoghurt but speculate now that it was far sweeter with a higher fat content than we are use to.  So too, I make my own granola sweetened with moderate amounts of honey and/or maple syrup and the variety that we purchased there was far sweeter.

Lunches were typically left overs or sandwiches that I made up for the beach or to nibble on while swinging in the hammock of egg or chicken salad.  I packed my own no-fat mayo with me but it was hard to resist the lime mayo that they sell on the island.  We love the freshly baked tortas that are sold from carts, market stalls and in the groceries but were also able to purchase seven grain bread like home to avoid the white processed flour whenever possible.

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Ziggy’s Coconut Shrimp & Garlic Shrimp served at Monchi’s

We did dine out almost every evening.  I told myself that I would stick to grilled fish but had to have one feed of coconut shrimp and the frutti de mare pasta that I so love.  Whole wheat pastas have also not yet found their way to the Yucatan.

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Snacks on Isla Mujeres are tempting too.  The Sabita brand potato chip is yummers and so are the local tortilla chips.  Almost every restaurant serves house made chips and salsa and although the pico de gallo is sensational and oh so healthy, the grease laden chips that the restaurants prepare are required to scoop it up.

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I also celebrated my time away with a scoop of coconut gelato and a mango popsicle, which I was pretty happy about because I could have easily treated myself to one every time we strolled down Hidalgo.

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I managed to stick to vino tinto on most evenings but the from scratch mango margaritas and pina cooladas were hard to resist on a couple of occasions.  But do you know what the killer was?  The cervesas!  In many cases the cost is equal to water in the restaurants which is one excuse for my abundant consumption.  In addition, many of our Isla traditions revolve around them i.e. a celebratory beer both to and fro on the Isla ferry, a cold one on the beach with a home-made sandwich or when you have arrived home from the beach and are about to hop in the shower.

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The reality is, cerveas tastes absolutely exquisite on Isla.  When D, Daughter #1 and our niece ordered a round with a fajita lunch, we all declared that they were the best beers we had ever tasted!  We remembered to keep our little apartment fridge stocked with them but I did not always remember to refill and chill my water bottle.  So this in the end was my downfall, because I drank too many cervesas for one simple reason: I was thirsty!

If the waistband is a little snug, was it worth it?  Oh my YES-I will do an extra couple of days of Zumba to make up for my indulgences.

Kath’s quote: “How long does getting thin take?”-Winnie the Pooh

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Love-that is all.

 

Healthy Snackbox Cookies

February19

One last recipe to clean out the provisions and pack for our trip.

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Healthy Snackbox Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: scads
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c canola oil
  • ½ c honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1⅓ unsweetened chunky applesauce
  • ¾ c whole wheat flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ¾ t cinnamon
  • 1 c quick oats
  • ½ c bran
  • ¼ c ground flax
  • ⅔ c coconut
  • 1 c raisins
Instructions
  1. Preheat to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix together oil and honey.
  3. Add egg, vanilla applesauce and stir.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, oats, bran, flax and stir.
  5. Add coconut & raisins and ensure everything is evenly blended.
  6. Spoon onto 2 cookie sheets sprayed with canola spray.
  7. Bake 12 minutes (or longer if crispier cookie is desired).

Kath’s quote: “I am still convinced that a good, simple, homemade cookie is preferable to all the store-bought cookies one can find.”
-James Beard

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Love-that is all.

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Peach Pecan Muffins

February14

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Two sleeps and we will be off on our winter vacation and so I am trying to use up groceries in the house AND bake up some healthy snacks for the car ride to Minneapolis where we will catch our flights.  I had a bag of frozen peach slices in the freezer and this whipped together in no time.  I poured the half thawed peach slices right into the batter without chopping them first and I was pleased with the hearty look of the finished product as well as the delicious taste of a meaty peach.

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Peach Pecan Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c canola
  • 1½ c honey
  • 600 g bag of sliced frozen peaches, slightly defrosted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 c pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray 24 muffin tins with canola spray or line with paper liners.
  3. In a medium bowl mix canola oil and honey.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and stir.
  5. Add peaches and stir again.
  6. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
  7. Add nuts and stir again.
  8. Combine ingredients of both bowls and stir just until blended.
  9. Evenly portion into muffin tins.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Kath’s quote: “An apple is an excellent thing — until you have tried a peach.”-George du Maurier

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Love-that is all.

Mardi Gras 2014

February13

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The folks at the RBC Convention Centre are once again helping Winnipeggers get through the long stretch of winter by presenting the 2014 version of Mardi Gras on February 14th &15th.

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At the Mardi Gras preview held recently, D immediately tucked into a Fried Oyster and Provolone Po’ Boy Sandwich.  These are served on every corner in the French Quarter of New Orleans and start with a classic French baguette.  The softness and freshness of the baguette is key and he indicated that this one was perfection.  His was adorned with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.  A huge fried oyster in a crunchy batter is the prize at the centre of the sandwich.

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We sampled Peel and Eat Shrimp, fabulously Freshly Shucked Oysters and Louisiana Gumbo Soup-all terrific. There are three new fantastic menu items this year.

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The Rose Farfalla Pasta is an assembly of cubed chicken breasts and spicy sausage pan-fried with capicola, red peppers, onions, mushrooms and a charred tomato sauce. The result is hearty and complex.

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I enjoyed the Jambalaya which is also new.  In spite of the fact that I had just made jambalaya for our dinner at home the previous evening, I was willing to dive right in.  Their version of a classic Creole stew was chock full of shrimp, Cajun sausage, grilled chicken, tomatoes, bell peppers, rice and okra. 

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My favourite of the evening was yet to come.  The Bourban Flamed Garlic Pepper Shrimp were expertly prepared before my eyes and pulled off the heat just as they changed colour and texture, which ensures a firm and crunchy shrimp. 

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These had been marinated in smoked paprika, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and old bay spice and then pan-fried in butter, garlic, coarse black pepper and cayenne pepper before the Bourban is added and tipped towards the flame to sear and finish the dish.

Tickets for Mardi Gras 2014 are available at Ticketmaster.ca.  Besides the authentic cuisine, entertainment is provided all night long by Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.

Kath’s quote: “The great dish of New Orleans, and which it claims having the honor of invented, is the GUMBO. There is no dish which at the same time so tickles the palate, satisfies the appetite, furnished the body with nutriment sufficient to carry on the physical requirements, and costs so  little as a Creole Gumbo. It is a dinner in itself, being soup, piece de résistance, entremet and vegetable in one. Healthy, and not heating to the stomach and easy of digestion, it should grace every table.”-William H. Coleman

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Love-that is all.

 

Raw Almond-Two Worlds Collide

February12

Many of my media friends are members of Canadian Women in Communications and they recently staged a very special event.  Raw Almond is the world famous* pop up restaurant on the frozen Assiniboine River near the famous junction of the Red.  *I say world famous because originator Mandel Hitzer announced when we were there, that a Swiss media outlet declared Raw Almond one of the top ten things to do in the world!

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Somehow organizers Morgan and Sara Comrie were able to convince Mandel to open the tented venue for a special lunch.  Mandel has not only been working tirelessly to operate the unique temporary restaurant for 21 days in total (the last evening is this coming Thursday evening) but he is also sleeping in a tent on the river to raise funds for three charities near and dear to his heart.  And what a huge heart he has-passionate about the local culinary scene, passionate about Winnipeg and Manitoba and passionate about its hardy citizens especially those with disabilities and others facing social hurdles.

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As we found our fur covered stools fashioned from tree stumps, freshly baked bread arrived at our tables, tipped out of brown paper bags. I sampled both the whole wheat baguette and the rustic raisin loaf.  The parade of dishes arrived family style and first up was one that I had enjoyed previously at Deer + Almond.

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Mandel has deconstructed and then reconstructed a traditional Caesar salad, and the result is a sparkling platter of lacy kale with slices of green apple, shards of parmesan cheese and a dressing with heady tastes of caper and anchovy.

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While we were munching away, and feeling so healthy doing so, pork and apple sausages with pungent mustard arrived.  They were lean and clean tasting with a minimum of salt.

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I would love to nab a kilo of them for my freezer.

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Shimmering beets and huge scoops of sheep milk cheese as white as the glistening snow which surrounded us, were perched upon a bed of grilled rapini which came along as a prelude to the main event: Whole chickens that had been stuffed with rosemary and sage leaves under the skin.

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Savoury notes were guaranteed by lemons, whole bulbs of garlic and huge cuts of onion that were wedged in the cavity of the birds.  Each roasted fowl was surrounded by purple, white and yellow potatoes, roasted whole with their skins on.  In spite of our robust outdoor appetites, we could not manage to eat all the offerings that had been laden upon the table.

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As delightful as our meal had been, the best part of the day was still to come as the guest speaker rose from his place at our table to share in his famous adventure.  I am referring to Tim Sr., half of the father and son duo who won Canada’s first Amazing Race in the summer of 2013.  I took away two key messages from Tim’s eloquent tale: “Cease striving” is a moto familiar and comfortable with me from Psalm 46.  The message is tattooed across Tim Jr.’s back and was their wake up call about half way through the race.  Secondly, was the importance of perseverance as it related to the race last summer and to Tim’s battle with Parkinson’s disease.  It was this message that spoke to me the loudest and made me so very proud.  I am not surprized that Tim and his son won this coveted honour and that is because he is from Winnipeg and when you are from the frozen prairies, you know what adversity is all about.  But Tim Sr. and everyone who calls themselves a Winnipegger is triumphant.  We not only survive in a climate that on some days is colder than Mars; we thrive and laugh at winter by dining on a frozen river!

Kath’s quote: When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”~Author Unknown

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Love-that is all.

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