How many different ways are there to make hummus? Apparently lots, as my friend Donna and I discovered on a trip to the Middle East a few years ago. Our trip lasted 12 days and took us from Jordan through to Egypt. We had hummus every day. It was served in both fancy and fast food restaurants and we loved every single variation of it.
Confess it, don’t you love getting free samples? Well, I most certainly do, especially when they are the latest and greatest in the health food industry. Last weekend, the Canadian Health Food Association Trade Show took place in Vancouver. I sampled all sorts of delights from chaga mushroom tea, brown rice kale chips to a salted caramel, cashew milk frozen dessert. Besides trying great food, there were talks given by doctors and health experts.
One of the speakers was Kathy Smart who is a registered nutritionist, holistic chef, named Canada’s health activist, and she was even a guest on Dr. Oz. Kathy had clients who wanted to slim down, so she tested a theory on them which she claims worked time and time again. Her theory is that a plant-based protein works better for apple-shaped women and meat based protein is best for pear-shaped women. Whether you’re wanting to trim down or not, here is a tip about how much protein to eat. Take your weight in pounds and divide it in half, then this is the number in grams that you should be eating a day. So let’s say you weigh 140 lbs., then you should be eating 70 grams of protein per day.
Kathy Smart also talked about her list of top healthy foods. Can you guess which vegetable she thinks should be crowned vegetable of 2015? BEETS! This superfood is a powerhouse of nutrients with some not readily found in other vegetables/fruits. As an example, beets have a high concentration of betalains (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying). They also contain vitamin C, magnesium, iron, folate, manganese, nitrate and potassium. This purple vegetable offers a huge range health benefits including: warding off cancer, supporting the digestive tract, boosting the immune system and energy, lowering blood pressure, helping arthritic pain, preventing cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia. In China when women are menstruating they eat a lot of beets to replenish their iron levels. Don’t throw out the beet greens (tops of the beets), as they have a good dose of lutein, an antioxidant that supports eye health. I cook them like I would spinach or swiss chard. So, if you didn’t believe in the benefits of beets before, then it’s time to embrace and feel the beet!
Easter is upon us. For me, it is a reminder that we can all have a fresh start. After days and days of grey, gloomy wet weather, that stretch into weeks with nary a ray of sunshine, you think you can’t bear to put on your trench coat and rubber boots yet again. Then, all of a sudden, the days grow longer and the sun pokes its head out more; tulips, daffodils and fragrant hyacinths are in full bloom. And that is when I feel the stirrings in my heart of new possibilities.
It wasn’t love at first sight, not even second sight. My “date” was quite verbose, but I was seduced by his vulnerability, the ease with which he stripped his….heart bare (clothes stayed on). Once I fell into his grasp, I fell hard for him. My husband knew of this love affair, and was fine with it because the object of my affection is a book, The Goldfinch. I devoured it for hours at a time, good thing I don’t have kids, otherwise I would surely have Child Services knocking on my door. I was swept away by the raw beauty of Donna Tartt’s writing, and how the main character wooed me into his inner life. The story unwound itself page by page and wrapped itself around me in sensurround. The Goldfinch in the title of the book refers to an actual painting that became very dear to the main character, but please go read it for yourself if you haven’t already.
I wanted to make an edible Valentine to The Goldfinch, and thought something lemony would be fitting. I decided to create golden cupcakes that are tart and sweet, which is one of the book’s messages, that is – even though your life may be sour, sweetness can still be found. Because the book is so substantial in content and length I wanted my cupcakes to be dense and substantial, almost like a pound cake quality. For the love of The Goldfinch, below is my Valentine cupcake recipe.