Browsing: Heart Smart Cooking

Low Fat Low Sugar Bran Muffins


In our efforts to trim down and shape up before a spring vacation in Mexico, D and I have virtually given up bread (except when it is as stellar as the hot/crispy loaf that we had at The Keg last night). I have been on the look out for a low fat, low sugar bran muffin which I think that I have just about perfected. Then recently D inquired about whether I had ever come across a healthy cornmeal muffin. I love a challenge and found another great recipe.

In muffin recipes I completely cut out sugar by using a sugar substitute. Even though I don’t particularly enjoy a white sugar substitute, I am very inclined towards Sugar Twin’s Brown Sugar one. Both recipes call for a scant amount of sweetness anyway.

Low Fat Low Sugar Bran Muffins
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • ¼ c dark brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute)
  • 1½ c bran
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • 1½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c applesauce
  • 5 T non fat vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • ½ c raisins if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line muffin tins (12).
  3. In a medium bowl mix together the brown sugar, bran and cinnamon.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, applesauce, yoghurt and vanilla together.
  6. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix together.
  7. Add raisins if desired.
  8. Spoon batter into 12 muffin tins.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Since I already had my tray of baking ingredients on the counter and the kitchen machine bowls were dirty, I thought that it would be efficient to make a second batch of muffins; this time the cornmeal ones. My recipe template only allows me to add one recipe per blog post, so I will have to do so separately.

Kath’s quote: “Give me liberty or a bran muffin!”- Colin Mochrie

TSR Watermark - 5582

Love never fails.


Pollo al Mattone


Pollo al Mattone is a method for grilling chicken under a brick to keep it juicy and crisp. Both the Tuscans and the Romans claim to have invented the method. The weight of the brick presses the meat into the grill for faster, more even cooking. It also works as a cover for the meat, keeping it moist. In Italy, pollo al mattone is often cooked over a wood fire.



Pollo al Mattone
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Tuscan
  • two heavy bricks, terra cotta are best
  • aluminum foil
  • 1 whole fryer chicken
  • fresh herbs like basil, oregano, flat-leafed parsley, to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • salt and pepper
  1. wash & dry two bricks
  2. wrap bricks in aluminum foil
  3. using a butcher's knife or large kitchen shears, cut the chicken along one side of the backbone
  4. remove the back bone entirely if desired (we left intact)
  5. open the chicken and lay it flat like a book
  6. lift the skin away for the flesh or make small cuts on breast & thighs
  7. push the garlic and fresh herbs under the skin to look like photo above
  8. liberally salt & pepper chicken
  9. preheat barbeque to approx. medium
  10. heat the bricks in a closed barbeque
  11. place chicken skin side down onto grill
  12. using hand protection, place hot bricks over chicken covering as much surface as possible
  13. close lid and let chicken cook 22 -25 minutes without disturbing
  14. remove bricks
  15. using hand protection, grab legs and flip the chicken so the skin side is up
  16. place the bricks on top again
  17. close lid
  18. cook again for 12-15 minutes without disturbing until exposed skin is starting to brown
  19. repeat above action and flip one last time
  20. cook another 5-10 minutes until skin is starting to crisp and internal thigh temperature is 175 degrees
  21. transfer chicken to platter and let rest 10 minutes before serving

I enjoyed this dish twice in one week. The first was the evening of my Mom’s Celebration of Life. I had driven back out to the lake from the city. Girlfriends of 35 years were staying with me that week. Nance handed me a glass of wine and Mary pulled the chicken off the grill to sit. What would I do without my friends?


Later that same week with Beep, Boo and the Frenchman joining us on the weekend, D tried his hand at the same recipe.


We had assembled in the gazebo as it looked as if it might rain. When the sky darkened we had to light candles to illuminate our meal. We didn’t mind a bit.


This was the finished product: chicken and ribs, new potatoes, squash and zucchini. Delicious food, cozy spot, good wine and family. Life is good.

Kath’s quote: “You know when you come across one of those empty shell people, and you think “What the hell happened to you?” Well there came a time in each one of those lives where they are standing at a crossroads… someplace where they had to decide whether to turn left or right. This is no time to be a chicken-shit, Frances“. -Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun


Love never fails.


2016 Confessional


I am writing furiously so that I do not chicken out. I am once again sharing with you my readers, so that I can be held accountable. The issue is this: my blood sugar is in the high normal range and I have seen the way diabetes has tragically altered my Mom’s life in so many ways.

Even though she is 89 and has survived two cancers, it is the diabetes that has caused  lasting debilitation. She has been wheel chair confined for quite some time now and when the lift in her personal care home broke down, they indicated that they would no longer be able to get her to the washroom, so you know the rest…… She tries hard to exercise her independence but she is totally reliant on others for her care.

I asked my nurse practitioner if losing some weight would help the blood sugar thing and she replied with a resounding “yes”! So today is Day One and I will “weigh” in with you in a week or so and share some of my new found recipes along the way.

I have considered Weight Watchers as I was very successful on the program between our first and second baby. But the truth is, I know exactly what I need to do without spending money on a program. I need to eat less, and when I do eat, it needs to be the right choices. It is pretty clear to me.

Here is a small triumph from Day One: I have a torn meniscus and have spent the day in waiting rooms, seeing doctors, getting x rays and prescriptions. When our kids were young, I always let them have a treat of potato chips after a dentist or doctor’s appointment. While I was killing time at Rexall waiting for a topical cream prescription to be filled, I spied the chip aisle. Although I was tempted by a big bag of my favourite kettle chips, I resorted to a healthy snack. My appointments meant that I had not eaten any lunch, so it hit the spot. The snack was mostly air but had some crunch and some salt which are the two sensations that I cannot do without.

So feel free to come along my friends as I take you on another food journey.

Kath’s quote: “I have a great diet. You’re allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people.” ~Ed Bluestone


Love never fails.



Cauliflower Three Ways



Veg -centric dishes are often my choice when we dine at Winnipeg’s trendiest restaurants-Pizzeria Gusto, The Merchant Kitchen, Deer + Almond, Segovia and Enoteca.  These are dishes that focus on flavour. Being meatless is secondary. Proteins are still included, but they’re more of a flavour enhancer. We spotted many such dishes on Scott Bagshaw’s Enoteca menu and finally decided upon the Roasted Cauliflower utilizing “cave aged” gruyere to intensify the taste. Panade added moisture, rough cut almonds provided crunch, orange segments the acidity and capers the saltiness.

We’ve included more veg-centric dishes in our own repertoire at home so recently when Carly Peters the editor of Local Fare Magazine (published on behalf of the Manitoba Restaurant Association) contacted me to see if I had any cauliflower recipes in my repertoire, the answer was an immediate “yes”.


Our son and his wife (known as J1 and J2 in this space), were the first to introduce us to Buffalo Florets. We were all up at the beach house and they were on dinner duty. They served roasted cauliflower that had been tossed in Frank’s Hot Sauce and then roasted again, as an appetizer course. Loving Buffalo wings but not the calories and fat, we got a kick out of this alternate. When Carly and her photographer arrived to photograph this dish, I had prepared carrots and celery sticks to dip into blue cheese dressing to offset the fieriness of the hot sauce.

Curried Cauliflower is a take off on one of our families’ favourite casseroles-The Best of Bridge’s Classy Chicken. A mixture of mayonnaise, lemon juice, cheese and curry powder smothers a crown of cauliflower and then buttered panko flakes add some crunch.



Cauliflower Steaks were reminiscent of a classic Sicilian dish that we enjoyed while visiting friends in Castellammare del Golfo, near Palermo.

These recipes will be published in an upcoming edition, but if you would like a sneak peak at them, leave  a comment here.

Kath’s quote: “Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”-Mark Twain


Love never fails.




Barley Mango Sweet Pepper Spring Rolls



At “Life is Good” our summer beach house, weekends are lovely and brimming with family. I love to make suppers from scratch and serve up some special treats of things that the kids might not have the time or the budget to make on their own. With the price of protein as high as it is right now, I love getting wind of a nutritious meal that stretches an item like shrimp into a full meal deal.


Recently, the team at Go Barley sent me this recipe for Barley, Mango and Sweet pepper Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce including delectable Shrimp. Having cooked often from their award-winning cookbook, I knew that the recipe would be packed with flavour, healthy & simple ingredients and affordable barley!


I prepared the pearl barley earlier in the day, while I was taking care of the dishes from brunch. This way, we were able to spend the afternoon on the beach with the Wee One, arriving home just in time for me to swing into action.


I got everything prepped in order to start making the rolls and was able to coax our 2 year old grandbaby to snack on the red pepper and mango to hold her over until supper time. The rolls were fun to put together and I even had a volunteer of our son-in-law to help me out. We have to be particularly resourceful when we are up at the lake because there are a couple of country stores but not one with a full complement of items. Therefore, when I ran out of large rice papers and had to resort to smaller ones, the process got a little bit more time consuming.

When another contingent of family arrived just in time for supper, everything was ready to go for a casual dinner. We knew that there would be snacks around the bonfire later that evening, so we were all content with the lighter fare.


Barley Mango Sweet Pepper Spring Rolls
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 rolls
Hint: I purchased round plastic screens from an Asian grocery many years ago to make working with rice paper a breeze. I use them often and strongly recommend them.
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • ⅓ c fresh lime juice
  • 2 T liquid honey
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 2 t finely minced ginger root
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • Spring Rolls:
  • 2 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1½ c cooked pearl or pot barley
  • ⅓ c chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 10 large rice paper wrappers
  • 1 small sweet red pepper, cut into strips
  • 10 large cooked shrimp, peeled and cut into half lengthwise (mine were smaller so I kept them whole)
  • 1 small mango, cut into thin strips
  • 2 c shredded cabbage or pre-cut cole slaw
  1. To make dipping sauce:
  2. In a small saucepan, combine lime juice, honey, fish sauce, vinegar, ginger root, garlic and red pepper flakes.
  3. Heat gently, stirring, just until honey melts.
  4. Set aside.
  5. To make spring rolls:
  6. In a small bowl gradually add 1 to 2 T dipping sauce to peanut butter, whisking until blended, smooth and the consistency of a thick sauce.
  7. Stir peanut butter mixture and cilantro into barley.
  8. Set aside.
  9. Fill a pie plate with or shallow plate with warm water.
  10. Place a rice paper in water and soak for 5 seconds.
  11. Remove and place on work surface until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds.
  12. Across lower third of rice paper, layer approx. 1/10th of the red pepper and the barley mixture, a couple of shrimp pieces and 1/10th the mango and cabbage leaving 1 inch border at each end.
  13. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, then fold sides towards the centre.
  14. Roll up into a cylinder (mine were more like "packets")
  15. Repeat soaking, filling and rolling with remaining rice paper and ingredients.
  16. To serve, cut each roll diagonally in half.
  17. Serve with Dipping Sauce.

I made a double batch. There were enough rolls for six of us that evening. I served them again as an appetizer previous to our Father’s Day dinner Sunday evening and then D took the remainder to work for lunch. In the mean time I mixed up extra pre-cooked barley, more of the peanut butter sauce, added cilantro and fresh mini cucumbers and enjoyed a tasty barley salad for my mid-day meal.

Kath’s quote: “The keynote to happiness within the four walls that make any home is plain, wholesome, well cooked food, attractively served.”-
Louis P. De Gouy


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.






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