Kashi Cereal Review

>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Toasted Berry Crisp - Kashi - Scrumptiously Fit Food

While watching TV recently I noticed a commercial advertising cereal where representatives from the company would jump out of elevators and surprise random strangers with their cereal. It struck me as memorable because if I was getting in a boring elevator to face the daily grind, how interesting would it be to get randomly accosted with free food (or maybe because those astonished individual’s facial responses were utterly amusing)! I normally don’t eat cereal because…well…I just don’t, but I was intrigued and found myself on the Kashi website trying to figure out how to get my surprise through the mail (since nobody was jumping out of fun elevators for me).

After about a week, my “surprise” came in the mail. I opened it and tumbling out was my sample of Kashi cereal. Being one to have to try everything at least once (or twice), I decided to sample it (it is a sample after all). To my surprise it was quite tasty and after reading the nutrition label, I noticed that it actually packed a bit of nutrients, aside from all the high sugar content, 13g!, (really what cereal doesn’t contain sugar?), it has 7g of fibre and 9g of protein in one serving which is 2 or 3 times the norm and quite impressive for cereal.

It tasted better than some other cereals that put me off of ever wanting to eat the stuff in the first place but due to the high sugar levels, I wouldn’t suggest eating this stuff daily or large quantities (i.e. 2-3 cups) all in one sitting (I’m sure you’d rather eat a yummy piece of pie instead if you were planning to consume that much sugar and calories). Therefore as all other things that tasted too good to be truly healthy, make sure you keep in mind to eat Kashi in moderate amounts and like all other things, as part of a healthy diet.

Try getting a sample of the free cereal yourself on the Kashi website!

Nutrition Information for Toasted Berry Crisp:

Serving size: ¾ Cup
Calories: 210
Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 130mg
Potassium: 160mg
Carbohydrates: 35g (of which: Fibre 8g, Sugars 13g, Starch 14g)
Protein: 9g


Uptowne Gelato Experience

>> Thursday, March 25, 2010

Uptowne Gelato - Scrumptiously Fit Food

It’s been 5 months and 9 days since my last vacation and I’m definitely feeling the lull. It might be due to the incessantly fluctuating Calgary weather or the fact that it’s still another 4 months until my next vacation and boy did I need a little pick me up. So off we go for a brisk walk to our neighbourhood gelateria, Uptowne Gelato - located in Mckenzie Towne, a mere 10 minute walk from our house. As we make our trek towards the quaint little strip mall that’s built to resemble a small town centre, I was daydreaming about all the times we had gelato on our European trip (being delusional is the only way one survives in Calgary). I couldn’t stop thinking about all the delicious flavours I tried and was extremely excited once we reached the entrance way. Not to mention that it’s actually open (we usually tend to crave gelato on Sundays, which seems to be the only day that the store is closed)!

Once inside, you’re privy to all the flavours displayed in a style similar to Italian gelaterias, plus the owners are more than willing to give samples of all the delicious flavours. After some thought and several samplings, I finally decided to go with the tried and true hazelnut gelato, it was a staple for me when I was in Italy and since I was daydreaming about the trip anyhow, why stop now? We decided to sit at one of the tables on the side and dig in (plus I was eyeing some of the
Illy coffee they had on display).

I couldn’t wait to scoop out a big chunk with my spoon, the only way to eat gelato! The flavour worked well in taking me far and away from dreary Calgary (the nuttiness always reminded me of eating a ferrero rocher chocolate), until I heard a grumble on the other side of the table. Apparently the grapefruit and blood orange mix wasn’t quite what he had imagined before ordering. Of course for comparison sake, I had to take a scoop out of his as well and I must say that I was glad to have chosen hazelnut.

All in all, I was happy to have finally gotten my gelato fix in Calgary (might be back soon for that Illy coffee!), although it will never quite compare to eating gelato in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, it was nice to sit back relax and fantasize about being a million miles away for 20 minutes. But now that we’re back to reality, so begins my vacation countdown again.

Uptowne Gelato
640 – 26 Mckenzie Towne Gate SE
(403) 726-9447

Uptowne Gelato on Urbanspoon


Hummus (Without Tahini) Recipe

>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lightened Up Hummus - Scrumptiously Fit Food
For those who know me, know that I love to snack often and at all times during the day, so I’m always looking for things that are delicious, healthy and easy, enter hummus! It’s usually my go to snack of choice because really, it’s Mediterranean (which I can’t stop talking about), it’s super nutritious and it’s really easy to make.

Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are part of the legume family. In recent years, dieticians and nutritionists alike have begun to encourage people to eat more “Mediterranean” thereby increasing their intake of legumes (aka beans) because they’re a great source of fibre and protein. This is also why it’s a main staple food for vegetarians aside from tofu (which I also love and will have to blog about soon). In 1 cup of chickpeas, you get ~12g of protein and ~7g of fibre which is a whopping 30% of your recommended daily fibre intake!

Since most hummus is made from tahini, which is ground up sesame paste, it tends to be a little heavier and because I can’t stop eating hummus after just 2 tablespoons, I had to go in search of a lighter version. Then I came across the Canadian Living lightened up hummus
recipe, instead of tahini, it uses yogurt (another main Mediterranean favourite) and sesame oil, needless to say I had to try it. Oh try it I did, I’ve been making hummus using this recipe since and I’ve paired it with everything from whole wheat pita bread to cucumbers and it’s just as delicious plus I don’t have to have to stop after 2 tablespoons (who wants to keep track anyways?)!

Quick Tidbit: Eating hummus with whole wheat pita bread creates a perfectly balanced meal. Hummus is rich in protein, when ingested with whole grains, which are full of healthy carbs causes our bodies to uptake the nutrients of both easier. Think along the lines of taking calcium and vitamin D. So don’t be afraid to eat a little (whole wheat) carbs with that hummus!

¾ cup fat-free plain yogurt (I like using greek yogurt but plain works just fine)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cloves garlic, minced (I usually up this because I like my hummus really garlicky)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch paprika

(Feel free to play around with this recipe. You can adjust the flavours by adding in different ingredients, Eg. roasted red peppers)

Line a sieve with some cheesecloth and set over a bowl. Add the yogurt and let it drain until reduced by half (or until you don’t mind the consistency, the original recipe calls for 2 hours in the fridge, but I found that it really depends on the yogurt you use, plus who wants to wait for 2 hours, so I usually give it until I’m done getting all my other ingredients together).

In a food processor, add in yogurt, chickpeas, lemon juice, sesame oil, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic, pulse until smooth. Scrape in to bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle paprika on top.

Serve with pita or other veggies as a dip!


Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

>> Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Healthier Banana Bread - Scrumptiously Fit Food

I’ve been craving banana bread like mad lately and I’m one that has to satisfy my cravings (I even had to go buy some during work at the Sunterra market), since avoidance only makes me eat everything else around me AND what I was craving to begin with as well. After realizing that it’s just easier to give up and eat what I crave, life has been just that much easier and most satisfying.

So here’s my rendition of banana bread. I know there are tons of different recipes for banana bread on the internet and any one search on Google or Yahoo proves this, but everybody tends to have a favorite recipe that they’ve had for a long time and I wanted to share mine with you (might as well add mine in to the mix). I can’t quite remember where I got this recipe, probably through an online search way back in the day, but through time I’ve made a few modifications to it and have been quite happy with the outcomes. Although it uses butter instead of the ‘healthier’ options that other recipes suggest, you can definitely substitute it with sour cream or canola oil and I’ve added those alternatives in below. If you do try it with those alternatives, please let me know what you thought of the outcome!

Bananas - Scrumptiously Fit Food Ingredients:
4 ripe bananas
¼ cup melted butter (or ¼ cup canola oil or ¼ cup milk)
½ cup low fat yogurt (or ½ cup sour cream)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 egg beaten (or 2 egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour

I normally like to have my banana bread plain and as is, but feel free to add any of the following to change it up a bit:
Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon
Optional: chopped walnuts
Optional: dark chocolate chunks

Banana Bread Batter - Scrumptiously Fit FoodPreparation:
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Smash the bananas until there are no longer any large chunks, mix in melted butter (oil or milk) and yogurt (or sour cream). Add in brown sugar, sugar, egg and vanilla. Then add in the baking soda and salt, ensuring it’s all combined. Mix the whole wheat flour and all purpose flour together and slowly add in to wet mixture.

Bake for 45-50 mins, check with a toothpick by inserting it in to the bread. If the toothpick comes out clean then the banana bread is done. Enjoy!


Dine Out Calgary: Escoba Bistro and Wine Bar

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

Escoba - Scrumptiously Fit Food

Every year around this time Calgarians are treated with the Dine Out Calgary event, a special ten days for participating restaurants to showcase their food and wine. I’ve made sure to partake in this event since the first time I’ve heard of it in 2005 (I’m not sure when this all started, but 2005 sounds good to me, that way I don’t feel like I’ve missed out), it’s a great way to try a bunch of different restaurants at an affordable price. How it works is simple, each restaurant that opts to join the list puts together a set menu, which includes appetizer(s), entrée(s) and dessert(s). It should highlight the restaurants genre and their specialty dishes. This year we almost missed out, it wasn’t until a colleague asked if we were going did I realize that the event was on! I would have been devastated, but luckily we were able to make it out on Saturday with a last minute reservation (we’re talking 7pm and we’re frantically calling around). We eventually ended up going to Escoba, which is located on 8th avenue downtown, I’ve wanted to try this place out for a while now, but every time we plan on it, something always ends up happening causing us to cancel (so you could imagine I was quite excited to actually head over there!).

It was more casual than I expected, giving off more of a comfy feel, somewhere you can find yourself just lounging with friends and chatting for hours.

Price Range:
We can’t really say since we were there for Dine Out Calgary, but after taking a quick peek at the menu, it looked to be around the mid $20s- mid $30s.

Food & Wine:
It was ok. I know, you’re thinking just ok? Well I mean, it started off really good, we both ordered the wine samplers (3 x 2.5oz glasses different light or full bodied wines). Then we ordered the dip trio, consisting of spinach & artichoke, roasted red pepper and chickpea dips with delicious pita (for those who know our appetites know why we ordered on top of the set menu!), so far so good, we’re quite impressed and it inspired me to want to make some dips at home.

Out comes our appetizers, a signature sampler, with shrimp and asiago stuffed mushroom, spinach feta and almond spring roll and calabrese wrapped prawn. Maybe I started eating from the wrong side because so started my gradual decline. The mushroom was very flavourful, so I couldn’t wait to try the spring roll, but when I cut in to it, it sort of just smooshed all together and the filling started oozing out (note to self, no more cutting spring rolls). The skewered shrimp was a little over done, but the flavor made up for it.

Linguini Fresca, Escoba - Scrumptiously Fit Food
For my entrée, I decided to order the Linguini Fresca – spinach, baby roma tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes & mushrooms, in a white wine and garlic olio - sounds delicious and it was, except my linguini was overcooked (sense a trend?). After having pasta in Italy, you understand why Italians take their pasta so seriously and this sort of saddened me, possibly because I was so looking forward to eating here. Well, I looked onwards to our next course, dessert, banana bread pudding, I was extremely excited and this was the main reason why I wanted to come. Let’s just keep it short and say that I rarely ever have dessert leftovers but I did…

Banana Bread Pudding, Escoba - Scrumptiously Fit Food
My Picks:From what we tried, the dip trio was definitely a treat! I wouldn’t mind going back just for it!
Overall:As mentioned above, it was meh…it wasn’t bad (I’ve had far worse), but it wasn’t the best. I wouldn’t write it off as never trying Escoba again, but probably not any time soon.

Escoba Bistro and Wine Bar
624 8 Avenue SW
(403) 543-8911

Escoba Bistro & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


Moroccan Lamb Tagine Recipe

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

Moroccan Lamb Tagine - Scrumptiously Fit Food

I’m always looking to try new recipes and have been on a Moroccan kick recently. Early in the morning and off I go googling around to look for some neat recipes to try and I found Rouxbe, which is an online cooking school with great tips on cooking techniques as well as some interesting video recipes (step by step video instructions, which is definitely a neat idea), the one that caught my eye was the Moroccan Lamb Tagine recipe. Seriously, Moroccan? Lamb? You can’t go wrong!

There were a few things that I substituted and changed around but overall I followed the recipe pretty closely (I usually tend to do that the first time around so that when I do tinker around with the recipe I know how it should taste), see the comments below any ingredients that were altered or changed.
Ingredients (which occurs in several steps):
Meat Marinade
3 lb diced lamb shoulder (or you can buy those bags of precut lamb at Superstore)
1 tbsp ras el hanout – Moroccan spice blend (you can find the make it yourself recipe
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp Kosher salt (you can use regular salt if you don’t have any, just remember that regular salt is saltier than Kosher salt)
3 medium onions (I found this to be a little much, so I only used 2 onions instead)

Cooking the Meat
4 tbsp olive oil (I used a little less since the lamb I bought was a bit fattier)
4 large crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp Kosher salt (refer to above comment)
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric powder
1 tsp dried chilli powder (I substituted this with chilli flakes)
1 small cinnamon stick
4 pieces dried orange peel (they also mentioned that you can use fresh, which is what I did)
3 cups chicken stock

Roasting the Squash
1 butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper

Finishing the Tagine
1 large onion
2 carrots
1 cup prunes (for the life of me I couldn’t find any, but you can all breathe easy to find out that the tagine was just as tasty without them)

Marinating Lamb - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Remove the fat from the lamb and the silver skin if you’re using lamb shoulder, which makes the lamb chewy and will prevent it from becoming fully tender. Dice the lamb in to 1 inch cubes and put into a large bowl, add all the spices. Grate the onions using a food processor, or by hand, then add to the meat and mix thoroughly. Cover and place in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight if possible.

Prehead the oven to 375º Fahrenheit. (I recommend a lower temperature, closer to 300º Fahrenheit, this ensures that when the meat cooks it will be more tender and juicy).

Sear the lamb in batches over medium high heat in a Dutch oven (or a relatively big pot that can be placed in the oven). You may have to do this in 2 or 3 batches. Once all the meat has been browned, crush and add the garlic, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom, turmeric, chilli powder, cinnamon stick and the dried orange peels. Then put the lamb back in the pot and add in the chicken stock until it covers all the meat and bring to a boil.

Cover the pot (you can use tin foil if necessary) and place in to the oven. Check it about 45 minutes and stir, stew for another 45 minutes until the meat is quite tender. The meat should pull apart easily when it is done. While the meat is cooking in the oven, move on to the squash.

Butternut Squash - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Peel, de-seed and chop the squash into approximately 1 inch cubes. Toss with oil, salt and pepper then bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 15 mins, or until a fork goes in easily.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine - Scrumptiously Fit Food
Once the lamb is ready, dice the onions, carrots and prunes and fold in to the tagine. Bake, covered in the oven for another 20-30 minutes until the carrots are fully cooked (you can also cook it on the stove top to reduce the water content in the stew, resulting in a thicker sauce). Fold in the roasted squash and serve with Moroccan couscous.

This dish is possibly even tastier served the next day, giving all the flavors some time to blend together!


To Coffee or Not to Coffee?

>> Thursday, March 4, 2010

Espresso Coffee Beans - Scrumptiously Fit Food

After our recent trip to Europe, we've found that we're constantly in search of that perfect cup of coffee, whether it be an espresso, cappuccino or americano. Since Calgarians don't make their cappuccinos like the Europeans do (instead of half espresso, half milk and a dollop of foam, we often get a third espresso, a third milk and a third of foam the differences between dry and wet capuccinos, but I digress...), we decided that it was time to go out and buy our own espresso machine (and we've since had at least two cups a day). Seeing as this is also a nutrition blog, I thought it would be interesting to look in to the nutritional value of coffee, is it really all that bad for you? If so, why do the Europeans drink it like there's no tomorrow?
A quick search on the internet lead me to some interesting benefits of coffee ( I can see all the daily java junkies rejoice!).

1) Antioxidants: Not only are these good for you, but they have been found to also prevent our bodies from free radical damage, which is found in our environment through pollution and can harm our DNA. Believe it or not, coffee is one of the main sources of antioxidants for majority of the population today.

2) Prevention of diseases: Daily coffee consumption can prevent the onset of many diseases including type 2 diabetes, cancer and Parkinson's. Decaffeinated coffee has also shown to produce the same effects!

3) Counteracts our other vices: Yes, those would include alcohol consumption, the detriments of smoking, etc. Although I wouldn't run out and test this one instead of choosing to live healthier, it is interesting.

4) Helping the throb: Throbbing headaches that is, caffeine in coffee is a vasocontrictor, meaning it causing the blood vessels in our bodies to constrict and with it lowers the blood pumping to our brains. This comes in handy when we have headaches, which is a rush of blood to the brain and with the blood vessels slowing down the blood rush, it lowers the throbbing pain of the headache!

Of course we can't forget that coffee is the highest source of caffeine and it's recommended that we only consume (not pregnant women of course, although it brings me back to how the Europeans do it, again....I digress...) 400 mg of caffeine a day, which is the equivalent of three 8-oz (237 ml) cups of brewed coffee. For those of you who enjoy your espressos (ya ya, Starbucks drinks are included here) then you're looking at ~100mg of caffeine in a shot of espresso. So there you go all you java junkies, drink away, but as I've said many times before and this is no exception here...moderation my friends, moderation. Now where's that burr grinder...

Source(s): Health Canada, WebMD



>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Scrumptiously Fit Food - Calgary Food Blog

It all started with a simple search for finding ways to make ice cream at home without a machine, which has turned in to weeks of obsessed reading of online food blogs. I guess it's true that bloggers love to read and write blogs, especially when you're a food blogger. Nothing gives me better pleasure than cooking, eating, photographing and lately reading about food, which incidentally is all inclusive of a good blog. It's open up a whole new world to me, including recipes that I want to try (which were already longer than my Christmas wish list and definitely not getting shorter by the way I'm going). You can read about anything food related on nutrition, health, travel and it's a great escape from the daily grind (especially if you live in Calgary, AB, you NEED to live vicariously through others). Two of the blogs that I've been addicted to lately include:

David Lebovitz's Paris Food Blog:
David blogs about all things Paris, which is one of my most beloved cities. Paris really is romantic, everything you do in Paris is romantic and sexy, including eating a croissant on the street...mostly because you're eating in Paris! What could be better? Therefore reading anything and everything about David's adventures takes me far away from bitter cold Southern Alberta. Although he does give some good perspectives of how romanticizing a city often does make it better than the real thing.

Food Mayhem New York City Food Blog:
Since I'm planning on heading to NY in the next couple of months, naturally I would want to read everything about it. It just so happened that I am more interested in reading about the restaurants in NY than per say, the attractions (that doesn't mean I'm not going to be shopping, that I'd rather act on than read about). This blog includes a bunch of really interesting recipes (there goes the list again) which I'm definitely going to be trying real soon.

There you have it, the two main blogs that I've been following religiously the last couple of weeks and if this obsession continues I'm sure there will be more blogs to follow. Hopefully the next couple of ones will be more exercise or nutritional based, but who am I kidding...

P.S - Quick note about my blog photos, they're definitely no where NEAR where I would like them to be, but seeing as the only camera I have on hand most of the time is the one built in to my iphone, I'm not really working with much. I will try to improve the photos as time goes on..and hopefully these grainy photos will be no more!


Raincoast Crisps!

Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps - Scrumptiously Fit Food

I've recently sampled these crisps at a friend's house and have never been able to put them down since. They've now become my weekly splurge, as far as crackers go, these crisps aren't considered cheap. Ringing in at $6.99 a box, they're definitely meant to be a treat, but with my addiction to them, they'll have to replace my other vices for now.

Raincoast crisps are made by Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Ltd. from Vancouver, BC. Their claim is that each batch are handmade to perfection with no preservatives and plenty of healthy ingredients. They suggest pairing these crackers with cheeses, pate, antipasto or even crumbled and used as a crust for chicken (the latter, I still have yet to try). There are many different flavors (I'm sure I'll get through them all soon enough) including, Cranberry Hazelnut, Fig and Olive, Cinnamon Raisin, just to name a few. My favorite so far has to be the Rosemary Raisin Pecan flavor. The rosemary gives it just enough herbiness when combined with sugary raisins and nutty pecans coming to a nice balance of all around goodness.

Overall I like these crackers because they're definitely a healthier option than your local supermarket brands, they don't have preservatives (giving me another excuse to eat the whole box in one sitting) and they're made with plenty of healthy nuts which we don't normally get enough of in our diets anyways. They're definitely good and I'm glad they're good for you as well!

For more nutritional information visit Lesley Stowe's Website: http://www.lesleystowe.com/

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