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Read the digital editionMarch/April 2014

Food Matters

Healthy Snacks for Food-Curious Kids

Submitted by ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Why buy kale chips when you can make them at home? These healthy chips are an interesting and inventive way to use kale. Using thicker, curlier kale leaves results in a better-quality chip. Have your young kitchen helpers tear the kale into pieces, then assist with drying the kale in a salad spinner. You can experiment with other seasonings, or keep it simple with the sea salt and freshly ground pepper called for in the recipe.

While you probably already know chia seeds from the terracotta statues that sprout and grow an ornamental carpet of green, they’ve become more popular in Canadian kitchens in the past few years. Chia is a plant whose seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and various vitamins and minerals. The seeds are sold in natural food stores and specialty food stores. When soaked, the seeds form a gel, which helps thicken this Fruit and Chia Smoothie.

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KALE CHIPS

1 bunch kale (stems removed)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1/4 tsp (1 mL) sea salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Wash kale thoroughly under cool running water. Tear kale into 2 inch (5 cm) pieces. There should be about 12 cups (3 L). Spin kale dry using a salad spinner; pat kale dry with paper towels.

Combine oil, salt and pepper in an extra-large zip-lock plastic bag. Add kale. Seal bag and shake to coat. Alternatively, combine kale, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss until coated. Place kale in a single layer on prepared pans.

Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely in pans on racks. Kale chips should be served soon after they are cooled as they will lose some of their crispness upon standing.

Makes about 8 cups (2 L).

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FRUIT AND CHIA SMOOTHIE

 

2 tbsp (25 mL) chia seeds

1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water

1 cup (250 mL) apple juice

1 cup (250 mL) frozen raspberries

1/2 cup (125 mL) undrained canned crushed pineapple

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lime juice

1 - 2 tbsp (15 - 25 mL) honey or agave nectar

 

Soak chia seeds in warm water for 15 minutes. Chia seeds should form a gel.

Place chia seed gel and remaining ingredients (apple juice through honey) in a blender; purée until smooth. Pour into glasses. Serve immediately. Serves 2 - 3.

Cook's Note: Agave nectar is also known as agave syrup. It is a Mexican sweetener that is sweeter and thinner than honey. Look for it in natural food stores, specialty food stores or the natural foods section of grocery stores.

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For tips on energy safety, food or household matters, call ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s Answer Line at 1-877-420-9090 toll-free, visit us online at atcoblueflamekitchen.com, or email us at bfkanswerline@atcogas.com. To buy a copy of our latest cookbook, the 2013 edition of our popular annual Holiday Collection, visit the online shop on our website, drop by the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen office, or call our toll-free cookbook order line: 1-800-840-3393.

 






New Moms and Dads Need Feeding, Too

Submitted by ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Before baby, cooking supper from scratch on a weeknight was relatively normal, especially when two people shared kitchen duties. With a new baby in the house, energy and sleep are at a premium, and intricate dinners are too often replaced by drive-thru take-out and frozen pizzas. It’s a rut many new parents fall into, and it’s easy to see why. When a new member of the family takes centre stage in a household, menu planning and shopping forethought can move to the backburner.

To help make sure mommy and daddy are nutritionally taken care of, consider stashing away a freezer full of make-ahead meals that can be reheated for supper when you’re running on three hours of sleep. When one partner has an extra hour on the weekend, whipping up and freezing a large batch of chili, lasagna or pasta sauce in meal-sized portions can make all the difference mid-week, when both parents are tired and tempted to succumb to fast food cravings. Add a loaf of French bread picked up at the grocery store and you’ve got a satisfying meal.

It’s worth noting that many of our recipes for soups, stews and casseroles can be frozen, even though not all recipes mention this. If in doubt, get in touch with our Answer Line via the contact info at the end of this article.

This recipe for Everyday Chili is easy to put together in a pinch, and the ingredient list is modest and affordable – another great trait in a recipe when part of the family budget has been redirected to diapers and baby monitors. The recipe can easily be doubled for extra food prep efficiency. For added flavour, serve it with a dollop of our three-ingredient Lime Cream.

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EVERYDAY CHILI

1 lb (0.5 kg) lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped, optional

1 can (19 oz/540 mL) diced tomatoes

1 can (14 oz/398 mL) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbsp (25 mL) vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) chili powder

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper

In a large fry pan, brown beef. Drain off excess fat. Add onion, green pepper and garlic; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (tomatoes through pepper). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Serves 4.

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Lime Cream 

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) sour cream

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lime juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lime peel

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving or for up to 24 hours. Makes 1 1/2 cups (375 mL).

 

For tips on energy safety, food or household matters, call ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s Answer Line at 1-877-420-9090 toll-free, visit us online at atcoblueflamekitchen.com, or email us at bfkanswerline@atcogas.com. To buy a copy of our latest cookbook, the just-launched 2013 edition of our popular annual Holiday Collection, visit the online shop on our website, drop by the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen office, or call our toll-free cookbook order line: 1-800-840-3393.

Coconut Cupcakes a Holiday Treat: Kids Home for Christmas Break? Time to Get Baking!

Submitted by: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchens 

It’s winter in Alberta, which means slushy, snowy streets, toques and scarves fetched from the back of the closet for another year, and more days spent in the warmth of the indoors than in the chilly, frozen air outside.

A lovely way to spend a weekend afternoon, or a day during the holiday break, is to introduce little kitchen helpers to an exciting new baking project. Cookies are good, as are scones or muffins. But for a bit of extra fun – and some much-needed tropical flavour – why not try whipping up a batch of delicious Coconut Cupcakes? They’re easy to make, and the fancy frosting and toasted coconut topping makes them extra special.

As with so many kitchen adventures with kids, there’s pride and a sense of accomplishment to be had by baking from scratch without resorting to boxed cake mixes and a tub of icing. Turning basic ingredients into something so delicious is almost magical for young chefs, and the aroma that wafts out of the kitchen is enough to take the edge off winter’s chill.

Note that the batch size is a generous 18 cupcakes, so consider sharing with friends or bringing them to the rink for a post-skating snack.

COCONUT CUPCAKES

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp coconut extract

1 cup buttermilk

Fluffy Coconut Frosting (recipe follows)

6 tbsp sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

 

1. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Combine flour, 1/2 cup coconut, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. 

3. Using medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in coconut extract until blended.

4. Beginning and ending with flour mixture, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture, beating just until blended. Continue beating until batter is smooth and light, about 2 minutes.

5. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups, filling cups two-thirds full.

6. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in centres comes out clean.

7. Cool cupcakes in pans for 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks.

8. Pipe or spread Fluffy Coconut Frosting over tops of cupcakes. Sprinkle each frosted cupcake with 1 tsp toasted coconut. Makes 18. 

Nutritional analysis per cupcake:

387 calories, 19.1 g fat, 2.7 g protein, 52.8 g carbohydrate, 0.5 g fibre, 159 mg sodium

 

Fluffy Coconut Frosting

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 tsp coconut extract

4 cups icing sugar

3 tbsp light cream (10%)

1. Using medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together butter and shortening until creamy.  Beat in coconut extract until blended.  Gradually beat in icing sugar until combined.  Beat in cream until fluffy and smooth. Makes about 3 cups.

Nutritional analysis per 1/18 of recipe:

204 calories, 11.3 g fat, 0.1 g protein, 26.7 g carbohydrate, 0 g fibre, 38 mg sodium

 

For tips on energy safety, food or household matters, call ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s Answer Line at 1-877-420-9090 toll-free, visit us online at atcoblueflamekitchen.com, or email us at bfkanswerline@atcogas.com. To buy a copy of our latest cookbook, the just-launched 2013 edition of our popular annual Holiday Collection, visit the online shop on our website, drop by the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen office, or call our toll-free cookbook order line: 1-800-840-3393.

Easy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Submitted by: Amaranth Whole Foods Market at the Enjoy Centre

4-6 red peppers, remove seeds
1 large onion
1 tsp Coriander, ground
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Water or stock
salt & pepper
 
Options:
-add other vegetables eg. zucchini, carrots, etc.
-change up the spices...add heat with red pepper flakes
-toppings: your choice of yogurt, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, fresh chopped basil etc.
 
Preheat oven to 450F.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Cut up all the veggies into 1 inch pieces and place onto baking sheet.  Season veggies with the ground coriander, salt, pepper & give the veggies a good drizzle of olive oil.  Place veggies into over & bake 30-40 minutes till veggies are roasted and slightly caramelized.  Remove from heat, let cool.  Place veggies into your Vitamix blender with enough stock/water & puree till your soup is the desired consistency. If you do not have a Vitamix blender, place roasted veggies and water/stock into a pot and use a hand immersion blender.   Gently reheat soup before serving, adjust seasoning and add desired toppings.  Enjoy!
 
Note:  This soup is great served at room temperature or chilled.

Berrylicious Smoothie Recipe

Delicious & Nutritious (Makes 2 Smoothies)
INGREDIENTS:
1 organic banana
1 cup organic frozen/fresh berries
1 cup ice
2 cup coconut water/milk/dairy-free alternative
Choose an optional delicious add on:
- handful of hemp hearts or chia seeds
- tablespooon of your favourite nut butter/nut free alternative
- 1 tbsp. organic cocoa or cocoa nibs
- 1/2 cup organic greens (spinach/chard/kale)
- organic avocado
DIRECTIONS:
Blend everything in your blender till smooth and enjoy!

Submitted by: Amaranth Whole Foods Market

Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom

Submitted by: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

If the only version they know comes frozen in a box, why not let them help make the real deal?

Sometimes, on those nights when soccer practice runs late, when homework needs extra attention and when time gets the better of you, frozen chicken nuggets and a jar of supermarket plum sauce look like a dinner table knight in shining armour. That’s fine. Who hasn’t been there?

For when you have a bit more time, it can be fun to show your kids that things like chicken nuggets aren’t just plucked, fully ripe, from a nugget tree, then individually flash frozen. Before they show up in a box, there’s a process to making them, there are ingredients, and they can be made at home if you’re curious to try something new. 

For dipping, leave that jar of plum sauce in the back of the fridge and make a fresh Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce from scratch.

All in all, the pair makes for a delicious alternative to a frozen dinner that’s still familiar enough to please picky eaters.---

CHICKEN NUGGETS WITH SWEET AND SOUR DIPPING SAUCE
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
3 tbsp (40 mL) sesame seeds
2 tbsp (25 mL) chia seeds, optional
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) paprika
3/4 tsp (3 mL) salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup (75 mL) mayonnaise

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)*

1. Combine panko, sesame seeds, chia seeds, paprika and salt in a pie plate; set aside.
2. Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Cut each chicken piece crosswise into 1 1/2 inch (3.75 cm) chunks.
3. Place chicken in a bowl. Add mayonnaise and toss to coat.
4. Working with a few chunks at a time, place chunks in panko mixture, pressing lightly so that panko mixture adheres; turn to coat all sides.
5. Nuggets may be prepared to this point and frozen for up to 1 month. If freezing, layer nuggets with wax paper in an airtight container. Do not thaw before baking.
6. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
7. Place nuggets in a non-stick foil-lined large rimmed baking sheet.
8. Bake until nuggets are completely cooked and coating is golden brown, about 15 minutes if fresh and 20 minutes if frozen. Serves 6.

Nutritional analysis per serving:
278 calories, 14.9 g fat, 21.3 g protein, 15.7 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g fibre, 429 mg sodium
*Ingredient not included in nutritional analysis.

Sweet And Sour Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup (75 mL) rice vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) chicken broth
1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed golden brown sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped green bell pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1/2 tsp (2 mL) grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1. Whisk together vinegar, broth and cornstarch in a small non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, bell peppers, soy sauce, ginger and garlic; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 – 7 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 1 cup (250 mL).
Nutritional analysis per 2 tbsp (25 mL) serving:
62 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.3 g protein, 15.3 g carbohydrate, 0.1 g fibre, 166 mg sodium

For tips on energy safety, food or household matters, call ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s Answer Line at 1-877-420-9090 toll-free, visit us online at atcoblueflamekitchen.com, or email us - bfkanswerline@atcogas.com . To buy a copy of our brand new Everyday Delicious 2013 cookbook, visit the online shop on our website, drop by the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen Calgary Learning Centre, or call our toll-free cookbook order line: 1-800-840-3393.

Raw-Tella Spread

Submitted by: Amy-Jean Taylor

1 cup raw hazelnuts – significant amount of protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, Vitamins B1, B2, C, E, A and folate

½ cup raw Agave Nectar/Syrup- alternative to your refined sugars – as it contains a fiber called inulin with a low impact on the blood sugar level - helping feel full longer

¼ cup raw cacao powder – Super Food high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, calcium & magnesium

1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt - necessary for our brain function, and for balancing our systems. Celtic sea salt – hand-harvested and dried slowly under the Brittany sun--- is among the most nutritious, containing more than 80 minerals, including calcium

½ teaspoon raw vanilla bean powder - contains small amounts of the B-complex groups of vitamins which help in enzyme synthesis, nervous system function and regulating body metabolism.

All ingredients are raw and 0rganic for optimum health benefits!

Place hazelnuts in processor and grind into flour like consistency.

Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth

Keeps for 3 days in the fridge –3 weeks in the freezer.

Contact Amy-Jean at: www.rawcuisineandlifestyle.com;  Facebook: Raw Cuisine and Lifestyle or Twitter: @rawcuisine

Mushroom, Turkey and Rice Casserole

While we certainly all enjoy the family get-together, some of us salivate in anticipation of the turkey that’s left over, after the guests go home. 

Stir things up a bit by creating this easy, nutritious mushroom, turkey and rice casserole dish. Of course nothing’s stopping you from using turkey cuts such as breast meat and thighs, found on a regular basis in your local grocery store, when you want to satisfy the family’s taste buds throughout the long, cold winter months.

Ingredients

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil

1 lb. (500 g) sliced fresh crimini or white mushrooms

1 cup (250 mL) sliced celery

¾ cup (175 mL) sliced green onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (5 mL) each dried thyme leaves and sage leaves (or 1/2 -3/4 tsp (2-3 mL) if using ground thyme and ground sage.

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

4 cups (1 L) cubed, cooked turkey breast

4 cups (1 L) cooked brown and wild rice*

2/3 cup (150 mL) poultry stock

½ cup (125 mL) coarsely chopped pecans

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

  • In large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, celery, onions and garlic; sauté for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in thyme, sage, salt, pepper; sauté for 2 minutes and add poultry stock.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In 2.5-3 qt (2.5-3 L) casserole combine turkey, rice, and pecans, stir in mushroom mixture.
  • Bake in 350°F (180°) oven for 25 minutes or until heated through.
  • Garnish with parsley if desired.

*To cook rice: In medium saucepan bring 2 ½ cups (625 mL) water to boil. Add 1 cup (250 mL) uncooked brown and wild rice mix. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 35-45 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is until tender.

Nutritional Information (Per serving): Calories: 372; Protein: 32.5 g; Fat: 14.4 g; Carbohydrates: 28.4 g.  

Recipe and photo courtesy of Mushrooms Canada.

Baked Holiday French Toast

Growing up, we always got to open Christmas presents first thing Christmas morning and would snack on the oranges in our stocking to tide us over until breakfast. If this is tradition in your family, then this is a great recipe that not only can be prepared the night before and stored in the fridge until morning, but can be put into the oven to cook so that it is ready when you and your family are.

This recipe is for two people and can be multiplied for the desired quantity.

In a bowl combine:

3 pieces of whole wheat bread torn into pieces

1/2 cup chopped apple

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/6 tsp cloves

3 eggs

1/2 cup egg whites

1/4 cup milk (or egg nog for some festive flavour)

Transfer into a casserole dish and either cover and refrigerate until the morning or bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. The egg should be cooked through and the top of the casserole golden brown when it is ready. Serve topped with syrup, yogurt or apple sauce.

Jen Panteluk is the Director of Development at Ronald McDonald House® Northern Alberta and an avid triathlete and runner who has a passion for all things health and fitness. She loves to experiment in the kitchen to create new, healthy recipes which she shares on her Fabulously Fresh & Fit blog (http://fabulouslyfreshandfit.wordpress.com).

Avocado Goodness

Most people know avocados make a great addition to guacamole.  But did you know avocados are a deliciously rich, healthy and creamy fruit that may be sliced for a salad, mashed and used as a spread for a sandwich (just skip the mayo) or even used to thicken up a smoothie.

Willing to give it a try?   Often, avocados can be rock hard when purchased at the grocery store.  To ripen, place it in a paper bag with an apple or a banana for about a day until it yields slightly to pressure.  When ripe, cut the avocado lengthwise in half around the pit. Twist the halves in opposite directions to separate. The pit will stay in one of the halves. Cut each half in half again to make quarters; separate. The pit can then be easily removed from its section.

After peeling, the green avocado flesh will darken when exposed to air. Toss with lemon or lime juice or flavourless powdered citric or ascorbic acid to prevent darkening.  When preparing guacamole, fresh lemon or lime juice is often added to the dip to prevent darkening and to enhance flavour.

If you’re a fan of guacamole, try the recipe that is included with Southwestern Turkey Burgers from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen. For more recipes from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen, check out HYPERLINK "http://www.atcoblueflamekitchen.com" www.atcoblueflamekitchen.com

SOUTHWESTERN TURKEY BURGERS

Either homemade or store-bought guacamole may be used in this recipe.

1 lb (0.5 kg) ground turkey

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

2 tsp (10 mL) ground cumin

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

Oil

4 flour tortillas (6 inch/15 cm)

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup (50 mL) Guacamole, recipe follows

Combine first 6 ingredients (turkey through salt).  Shape mixture into 4 oblong patties. Brush with oil. Grill patties over medium heat on natural gas barbecue until completely cooked. Serve wrapped in tortillas with tomatoes and Guacamole.  Serves 4.

Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cubed

3 tbsp (40 mL) mayonnaise

1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) fresh lemon or lime juice

3/4 tsp (3 mL) salt

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced

Place avocado, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a bowl; stir in tomato.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups (300 mL).

2012  © ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen.  All rights reserved.

Roast Pork and Pesto Sandwich

Inspired by delicious Italian flavours, this hearty sandwich is sure to leave you satisfied, yet craving more. You’ll be hooked after your first bite! More great recipes can be found online at www.ditaliano.ca.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:
½ cup garden or confit lemon pesto 125 mL
8 slices D’Italiano Thick Slice Original White Bread
½ lb mozzarina, well drained and cut into 8 slices 250 g
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped 125 mL
1 lb thinly sliced porchetta or leftover roast pork 500 g
8 slices tomato
1 cup baby spinach 250 mL
½ cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped (optional) 125 mL

Directions:
1. Spread a thin layer of pesto on each slice of bread.
2. To assemble sandwich, start with 1 slice of cheese and a scattering of olives. Then layer the meat, 2
slices of tomato, ¼ cup baby spinach, mint and 1 more slice of cheese.
3. If grilling, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and brush the bottom of the pan with oil. Place
the sandwich on the pan and brush top with oil. Brown on each side 3 to 5 minutes.

Asparagus – Any Way You Want It!

Roast it, grill it, steam it or pickle it!  Anyway you want it, that’s the way to make it! 

Asparagus is delicious prepared a number of ways, is packed full of B vitamins and is a good source of potassium and fiber. 

When picking out green or white asparagus, buy firm, fresh stalks with closed, compact tips and uniform diameters, so that all spears will cook in the same amount of time.   If possible, cook promptly because the spear’s natural sugar will quickly turn to starch, causing the asparagus to lose flavour and develop a woody texture. 

Even with the best intentions, we don’t always get to our fresh market vegetables as quickly as intended.  When you can’t rush the asparagus from the market to the cooking pot, treat the asparagus similarly to how you treat fresh cut flowers.   Trim the ends and store the asparagus upright in an inch of water.   Cover the tops with a plastic bag and refrigerate for no more than a few days.   When travelling, wrap the asparagus ends in moist paper toweling.

If you’re eager for fresh asparagus, check out your local market garden or visit the Asparagus Festival in Innisfail, (www.edgarfarms.com), in early June.  It will be a delicious experience!

To preserve those road trip memories and the asparagus a little longer, try the Refrigerator Asparagus Pickles from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen.  For more recipes using asparagus, check out www.atcoblueflamekitchen.com.

ASPARAGUS PARMESAN

1 tbsp (15 mL)   olive oil

1 tbsp (15 mL)   fresh lemon juice

1 tsp (5 mL)   chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp (1 mL)   salt

1/4 tsp (1 mL)   freshly ground pepper

 1 lb (0.5 kg)   asparagus, trimmed

 1/4 cup (50 mL)   freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper until blended.  Steam asparagus just until tender crisp, about 4 - 5 minutes.  Transfer asparagus to a plate.  Drizzle with oil mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 3 - 4.

2012  © ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen.  All rights reserved.

Tabbouleh

One of my family's favourite summer salads is Tabbouleh. Here is a great recipe from Company's Coming Publishing Limited. It is a great salad to have with lunch or dinner, and many of the ingredients can be grown in your garden - on hand at anytime.

Tabbouleh (pronounced tah-BOO-luh) is a traditional Lebanese salad whose green?comes from parsley and green onions. Great as a side with grilled meats or?served?with crisp bread.

Bulgur, fine grind 1/3 cup 75 mL

Water, to cover

Finely chopped fresh parsley 2 cups 500 mL

Finely chopped English cucumber (with peel) 1 cup 250 mL

Finely chopped tomato 3/4 cup 175 mL

Finely chopped red pepper 1/2 cup 125 mL

Finely chopped green onion 1/4 cup 60 mL

Finely chopped radish 1/4 cup 60 mL

Dried mint leaves 1 tsp. 5 mL

DRESSING

Lemon juice 1/4 cup 60 mL

Olive oil 1 tbsp. 15 mL

Salt 1/2 tsp. 2 mL

Measure bulgur into small bowl. Add water. Stir. Let stand for about 20?minutes until tender. Drain well. Set aside.

Put next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. Toss.

Dressing: Combine remaining 3 ingredients in small cup. Drizzle over parsley mixture. Add bulgur. Toss until coated. Makes about 4 1/2 cups (1.1 L).

1 cup (250 mL): 88 Calories; 3.5 g Total Fat (2.3 g Mono, 0.4 g Poly, 0.5 g Sat); 0 mg Cholesterol; 14 g Carbohydrate; 2 g Fibre; 3 g Protein; 283 mg Sodium

Reprinted from Whole Grain Recipes

© Company’s Coming Publishing Limited www.companyscoming.com

Tangy Grilled Asparagus

Here is a fantastic side dish to try on the barbeque courtesy of ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen. It’s easy, flavourful, and perfect for asparagus season.

Tangy Grilled Asparagus

1/4 cup (50 mL) balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp (25 mL) oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp (5 mL) sugar

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper

24 asparagus spears, trimmed

To prepare marinade, combine all ingredients except asparagus in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag. Add asparagus and squeeze bag to coat asparagus with marinade; seal bag. Let stand for 30 minutes. Remove asparagus from marinade; discard marinade. Grill asparagus over medium heat on natural gas barbecue, turning occasionally, until tender, about 5 - 7 minutes. Serves 4 - 6.

Summer Picnic

By: Jessica Assaly

A family picnic is a great way to enjoy the outdoors this summer; it’s a fun way to hang out and enjoy being together! The menu can be as simple as a bucket of chicken and coleslaw from the drive-thru, to something more involved like gazpacho, herb crusted goat cheese, bruschetta, chilled grilled salmon, and fudge brownies. Mmmm.

Many grocery stores offer a number of prepared foods in the deli like salads, roasted chicken, veggie and fruit trays, assorted cheese, dips and crusty breads. These are all great options for eating outdoors.

As for the location, on the grass in the backyard will do, but it is a bit more adventurous to head out somewhere different. How about our beautiful river valley or Elk Island Park? Find a place that is safe for your family and that has some shade. If you need to walk a ways with all the picnic supplies, coolers on wheels or a wagon can be really helpful. Bringing something to do after eating is a great idea too - a ball, some bubbles are fun, or find a location close to a park for young children. And bring lots of water - it is so important to stay hydrated.

A few other things to have on hand:

  • a large blanket or sheet to sit on and set the food on
  • napkins, wipes, antibacterial hand gel
  • plates, utensils, cups
  • a bag for garbage and a bag for dirty dishes
  • knife and cutting board
  • salt, pepper, and other condiments
  • a first-aid kit, and toilet paper (you never know when these may come in handy)
  • and of course the camera

Happy cooking!

Jessica Assaly is currently freelancing and staying busy with her own children. She loves cooking and finding creative ways to involve children in the process. Healthy, great tasting, and easy to prepare foods are her passion!

What’s on the Menu? Camping, Culinary-Style!

By: Sandy Schaloske

In a moment of solace, in a time during my life when I had preschool aged children, I was able to pick up a magazine and read it--not just dust around it. I was horrified, however, to read about the ingredients that go into a hot dog. "Oh no," I thought. "What does that do to our camping menu?" If I were to subscribe to the idea of everything in moderation, then the occasional hot dog around the campfire during the summer would be just fine. There are enough healthier choices in the grocery stores these days that provide alternatives, however, so if you’re planning a lengthy camping trip, here are some great ideas.

Keep up energy levels for hiking and playing, with yummy snacks. Some easy and nutritious choices are granola bars, apples and oranges—these are great because they keep in the car or the cooler and don’t squish easily. Dry cereal, dried fruit, cheese strings, rice cakes, graham wafers, and fruit cups are also great choices. Juice boxes are a good option for drinks, as they can be frozen and used to keep other perishables cold in the cooler.

Breakfasts can be quick and easy with home-made muffins and pre-made oatmeal mix. Home-prepared is better because you can increase the fibre and control the amount of sugar and salt, and more importantly, the additives. If you are feeling more creative, pancake mix can be put together as a dry mixture, and then add water. The batter can then be squeezed out of a Ziplock bag to form perfect pancakes. Instead of syrup, use fruit cups or yogurt for toppings, or you can mix up some wonderful fruit dip. Egg whites come in re-sealable cartons that are great for avoiding breakage of whole eggs. Stir in your favourite dip mix (instead of packing individual spices) and some cheese string for a scrambled eggs treat. Bagels are great as well; mix up your own flavoured cream cheese using a low-additive fruit dip mix.

Lunch can go beyond hot dogs if you like. Home-made soup prepared with low-sodium bouillon and lots of barley and chopped vegetables is a favourite. Freeze in portioned containers and place in the cooler to help keep other perishables cold; just remove and cook when ready. Bagel sandwiches with peanut butter or roasted chicken are popular. Wraps can be filled with lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers along with some mix-as-you-need-it salad dressing for a vegetarian lunch. Keep perishable vegetables at the top of the cooler and use them during the first couple of days camping.  Grilled cheese sandwiches make a great lunch, especially when you serve them with a simple home-made tomato soup for dipping. Hummus and pitas are great as well, and don’t forget the carrot sticks and low-calorie favourite dips!

Supper can be a specialty every night! Chicken and veggie kabobs are easy and can be cooked on a small grill. Spaghetti and meat sauce is a favourite in my family.  You can put the pasta on to cook while the meat is being browned. Packing the frozen meat in the cooler is another way to keep the cooler contents cold. A dried pasta sauce mix, added with low-sodium canned tomatoes and then a little parmesan cheese in a small container, is a special topper. Canned beans are a great quick protein; serve with crusty buns and some turkey sausage. A quick curry dish can be whipped up with some mango, meat or tofu of choice, coconut milk, and 2 teaspoons of a fine curry seasoning.

Some wonderful ideas for seasonal dessert favourites are watermelon, pineapple, and of course, smores over the fire!  Pudding can be whipped up quickly and served with graham crackers. A bucket of homemade cookies filled with oats, nuts, and chocolate chips are always gobbled up.

That’s one full car-load of food, but it beats a daily hot dog by a long shot.  Have your family give you that extra hug for prepping healthy, delicious meals in advance!  You can then hug them back for helping you mix dip, chop veggies, and roll cookies into balls.

If you’re looking for low-additive fruit dip and vegetable dips, low sodium bouillon mix, hummus mix, mix-as-you-need-it salad dressings, dried pasta sauce mixes, fine curry seasoning, taco seasonings, Belgian chocolate chips and other culinary help, contact Sandy Schaloske, Epicure Selections Independent Consultant at (780) 425-2791 or greatspices@shaw.ca.

Kid-Friendly Road Food

By: Kerri Leland

As most parents know, traveling with kids means packing a lot of extra things for the trip - and a good supply of food is no exception.

Depending on the length of your trip, a cooler and picnic basket are good things to bring along. Packed with the right ingredients, you should be prepared for almost any snack-attack or meal time when on the road.

With safety in mind, it’s a good idea to keep the cooler or picnic basket in a place that is within easy reach of an adult or older child. The last thing you want on a long road trip is to be stopping every hour or so to rummage around in the trunk or far reaches of your mini van or SUV. As well, dividing your attention between the road and the almost-within-reach stash of food is very dangerous.

Some children feel anxious or uncomfortable when traveling; packing some of their favourite snacks is a good way for them to feel connected with home. As well, packing some snacks individually in small, re-sealable bags is a good idea. Children can become overwhelmed if presented with too many options, so if you can just hand them a little bag of snacks, the whole process can be a lot simpler.

Paper plates, bowls, cups, forks, knives and spoons are convenient. To reduce the amount of waste you create using them, consider washing them at rest stops or at your hotel. You can pack them again, and reuse them on the next leg of your trip. As well, fill re-useable drink containers with ice and water in the morning, and you’ll have a cold drink for a good portion of the day.

Providing healthy choices for kids while traveling is ultimately up to the people who pack the food – typically the parents. Fitness expert Paul Plakas says parents don’t need to trick their kids into eating healthy foods, even while on the road – it’s what those little bodies crave. Paul also shares a few suggestions for food to pack on a road trip:

"Some good choices are whole wheat melba toast, organic yogurt, dried fruits, raw unsalted nuts like almonds, frozen grapes (taste like candy), or oatmeal raisin cookies made with three quarter apple sauce ratio to one quarter butter," says Paul. "If you leave healthy food out and just expose them to these choices, kids will eat them because it is there."

Eating in a vehicle can create a big mess of crumbs and mysterious smears on the upholstery. Some low-mess, healthy ideas for food to pack are:

  • Mini boxes of cereal. These are great for breakfast on the road or even as a snack.
  • Cereal bars or granola bars
  • Trail mix
  • Cheese strings. Crumb-free and a good source of protein, these can survive out of the cooler for shorter trips. On longer trips, keep them fresh for longer in a cooler.
  • Mini boxes of raisins
  • Fruit such as apples and pears. These don’t have to be cold, they’re healthy, and  they won’t make a mess.
  • Bottled water or juice boxes. Re-useable drink containers may be a better option for little ones inclined to squeeze the juice boxes, though!

Planning ahead for your family’s food needs while on the road is a great way to save time and money. As well, offering healthy options to your family while on the road will help give everyone the energy to have fun!

Cutting Boards and Food Prep Surfaces

Common-Sense tips for preventing cross-contamination of bacterial in the kitchen 

Transferring harmful bacteria from one food or drink to another through cutting boards, utensils, and kitchen accessories can cause cross-contamination if the cutting surfaces or utensils aren't handled properly and cleaned often.

An example of how easy and often cross-contamination occurs would be cutting raw meat, poultry, or fish on a cutting board and then slicing the salad vegetables on the same cutting board without washing the cutting surface between uses.? "Knife cuts in the boards allows for bacteria to harvest even after it's been washed or sprayed," says Bruce Maxwell, owner of A Spot Of Wood – a maker of antibacterial cutting boards.

Most everyone has had some form of food poisoning and whether mild or severe, food poisoning can be uncomfortable and frightening.? Most people will go to great preventative measures after they've had food poisoning, such as never returning to the same restaurant or changing and organizing their home cutting surfaces to be sure meats, poultry and fish aren't being cut on the same surfaces as vegetables and other foods that don't get heated to a temperature that would kill the bacteria.

"Good kitchen food safety is important," says Maxwell.? "Many cooks and consumers have confusions about bacteria in food and cross-contamination and that increases the risk of bacteria in food.??

According to an FDA/USDA consumer food survey:

Twenty-one per cent of main meal cooks do not wash their cutting boards after cutting raw meat;

One quarter of main meal cooks do not wash their hands after handling raw meat and fish; two-thirds do not wash their hands after handling raw eggs; and

Sixty-one per cent of people who use a cloth or sponge to wipe kitchen counters change them less than seven times per week.

Maxwell offers a few common-sense tips for preventing cross-contamination of bacteria in the kitchen:

Always wash hands with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or fresh fruits and vegetables

Wash cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or fresh fruits and vegetables

Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs away from other foods in your shopping cart, on kitchen counters, and in your refrigerator

Use the bags provided in the meat section to bag your meat, poultry or seafood before adding these items to your shopping cart

Only use cutting boards made of hard woods and lightly sand the knife grooves if they appear to deepen.

Own and use multiple cutting boards;? one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood is recommended

Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food without washing the plate or cutting board between uses

Maxwell's company handcrafts wood cutting boards from Maple and other exotic hardwoods from around the world.? His company also provides sanding kits for periodic maintenance.? For more information or to see the one of a kind cutting boards at Spot of Wood,?go to www.spotofwood.com more information contact Spot of Wood at info@spotofwood.com or 408-293-2226. 

U-Pick It!

By: Jessica Assaly

In Alberta, our hot summer days are numbered, so it is nice to enjoy each day to its fullest. Visiting a local U-pick farm is a fantastic way to spend some time with your kids. Not only is it a wonderful chance to take a drive through the country, but it’s great opportunity to find out where your food comes from. Picking some asparagus, saskatoon berries, strawberries or green beans, and taking them home to include in your next meal, can be fun and educational. A few tips to keep in mind when planning a trip to a U-pick farm are:

  • Phone first to check what is ripe and ready for picking. Some farms may require an appointment.
  • Find out hours of operation
  • Get directions
  • Find out if it is wheelchair/stroller accessible
  • Bring buckets for picking
  • Dress comfortably for the weather (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray...)
  • Bring a snack
  • Bring cash
  • Bring a cooler with ice packs to keep your treasures from over heating in the car on the drive home
  • Bring a friend too!

Don't forget to plan a few trips to our great local farmer's markets as well. Support our local growers, have fun, and spend some time outdoors with family and friends while enjoying the warm sunshine, and of course, enjoying some great food!

Happy cooking!

Jessica Assaly is currently freelancing and staying busy with her own children. She loves cooking and finding creative ways to involve children in the process. Healthy, great tasting, and easy to prepare foods are her passion! For information on some terrific Alberta fruit and vegetables farms, log onto www.albertafarmfresh.com.

Back to School with Something New: Change up School Lunches to Keep Things Fresh & Interesting

Submitted by: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Another school year means another year of packing lunches five days a week. It’s always hard to find the right balance of flavour, cost and ease of preparation while keeping things from getting boring by mid-November.

 

Instead of sandwiches on two slices of bread, try mixing things up with wraps, made with either pita or tortilla shells. You can use some of the same ingredients you would normally use in a sandwich (lettuce, cheese, mustard, deli meats, etc.), or you can do something completely different. Our Fiesta Roll-Ups, made using flour tortillas, are a good fit for kids who appreciate a wide range of tastes, including olives, peppers and cream cheese.

Instead of a chocolate bar or bag of chips, a homemade muffin is a great dessert. You can speed things up by preparing and freezing our Bran Muffin Mix ahead of time – either on a weekend after the kids have gone to bed, or on a Sunday afternoon with their help – and do the final mixing and baking mid-week, when time is harder to come by.

 

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FIESTA ROLL-UPS

16 oz (500 g) cream cheese, softened

1 envelope (28 g) ranch dressing mix

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped green onions

1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped ripe olives

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped canned roasted red peppers, well drained

1 small can diced green chilies, drained

6 burrito-style flour tortillas (10 inch/25 cm)

Using medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and dressing mix until fluffy. Add onions, olives, roasted peppers and chilies; stir until blended. Spread mixture evenly over one side of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) border. Tightly roll up each tortilla jelly-roll fashion. Wrap rolls individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Rolls may also be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator. To serve, trim ends off each roll. Cut each roll into 8 pieces. Makes about 4 dozen roll-ups.

 

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BRAN MUFFIN MIX

3 cups (750 mL) wheat bran cereal

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) flour

1 cup (250 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) skim milk powder

1 tbsp (15 mL) cinnamon

1 tbsp (15 mL) baking soda

1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, chilled and cubed

 

Combine all ingredients except butter in a food processor. Using an on/off motion, process just until blended; do not overprocess. Add butter and process, using an on/off motion, just until blended. Divide mixture in half and place in two resealable plastic bags. Freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 2 packages (3 cups/750 mL each).

Baking Instructions: Remove 1 package muffin mix from freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Combine package contents with 1 cup (250 mL) raisins in a bowl. Whisk together 1 cup (250 mL) water, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp (15 mL) vinegar or lemon juice and 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to muffin mix; stir just until blended. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) for 18 - 20 minutes. Makes 12 - 14 muffins.

Cook's Note: The Blue Flame Kitchen used Post 100% Bran Cereal in this recipe.

 

For tips on energy safety, food or household matters, call ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s Answer Line at 1-877-420-9090 toll-free, visit us online at atcoblueflamekitchen.com, or email us at bfkanswerline@atcogas.com. To buy a copy of our latest cookbook, Everyday Delicious 2013, visit the online shop on our website, or call our toll-free cookbook order line: 1-800-840-3393.

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