Monthly Archives: November 2012

Snacking: Healthy vs Junk

It’s 11:30 am and I’m starving. My lunch isn’t until 1 pm today and I’m stuck with the choice, healthy  food or junk food. Coffee and a sweet treat sounds great but I know I will be hungry shortly after eating it, on the other hand I don’t want a piece of fruit I want more than that.
I settled on getting a fruit smoothie. But this got me thinking why do I crave sugar so much and what can I do to make healthy options more appealing. I did a bit of digging and found that there is no one reason we crave sugar, it comes down to many. One of the reasons we crave sugar (or caffeine) is because of our adrenal function. Adrenal glands are a hormone gland that sits above your kidneys and make epinephrine (better known as adrenaline). When we get stressed our adrenal glands kick into overdrive and produce more epinephrine than we need, this causes us to use up a lot of our energy and sugar is used by the body as a fast way to get energy. Who knew it was a small glad that makes you crave all the sugar.
But don’t stress about it, that will make you want sugar. If you are feeling tired and hungry and want a sugar boost try to relax, step away from what ever is stressing you out for 15 or 20 minutes and have something healthy. It might take a bit longer for that energy to be used but you will feel better in the long run.
Here are some books that can help relive the stress.
The craving cure: break the hold carbs and sweets have on your life by Rena Greenberg
Breaking the food seduction: the hidden reasons behind food cravings by Neal Barnard
Grazing: a healthier approach to snacks and finger foods by Julie Van Rosendaal
100-calorie snack cookbook by Sally Sampson
Grazing: portable snacks and finger foods for anywhere, anytime by Julie Van Rosendaal

Holiday entertaining

‘Tis the season for holiday parties. Whether you plan to host one or attend one, this is one of the busiest times of the year for parties with both family and friends. It can be stressful if you are the one hosting that party so here are some tricks and tips I like to use when we have guest over.
* If it’s a dinner party, make things you can cook ahead of time or in a slow cooker, that way you can be with your guest not in the kitchen.
* If you are having the event catered but want to have the illusion you did the cooking, put a whole onion in the oven on a cookie sheet and turn the oven on low about an hour before the guests arrive. When they come in they will smell the onion in the oven and think you have been slaving away in the kitchen all day. Just remember to turn the oven off just before serving the food.
* Pick a theme to unify your party and plan foods around that theme. E.g. Moroccan, serve traditions dishes from Morocco, Moroccan themed drinks, and create an atmosphere that reflects the theme by using coloured glass votive candles, colourful accent pieces, etc.
If you are a guest at a party you can’t go wrong with bringing a small hostess gift. Here are a few I’ve brought in the past.
* Wine, always a good pick and it doesn’t need to be very fancy or expensive, just please no homemade wine.
* Homemade preserves. Canning is somewhat of a lost art now, by bringing some homemade jam or jellies nicely presented shows how much you value your friendship with the host/hostess.
* If you know the party will be a late one give a small basket of homemade cookies and a coffee card. This way they won’t have to make coffee when they wake up.

Cookbooks in the digital age

I’m sure almost all of you have heard of e-books, but have you heard of e-cookbooks? They are on the rise, and you can even get an app for that.
Publishers Weekly recently published an article on the subject. The article focuses on the latest PW Discussion Series, “The Digital Kitchen: Adapting Cookbooks in the App Age,” held on November 16th and hosted by the editor of Pw’s Cooking the Books newsletter Mark Rotella. The panel included experts like Amanda Hesser, co-founder of, Doris Cooper, v-p and editorial director of Clarkson Potter and Potter Style, and Melissa Clark, author and staff writer for The New York Times. The panel talked about the growth of digital cookbooks vs traditional print cookbooks and how you can’t really have one without the other. It was a very interesting article that is worth a read.
You can also buy really cool software to help you organize all your bookmarked recipes and have them available on both your computer and on a laptop/tablet. A member of the GPL Cook Book Club told me about Cook’n and how much she loves it. It lets you capture recipes from websites, auto-generates a shopping list for you, calculates the nutritional info for you, and so much more. This great product is on sale for Black Friday until only $20.00, originally $80.00.
I’m really excited to see where the digital age will take cookbooks, but I will still always love my printed cookbook collection.

Transition Guelph Movie series: Forks over Knives November 26th @ 7:00PM

I’m sure most of you by now have heard something about the book of movie called Forks over Knives. My Boyfriend and I try to live a healthy active lifestyle and watched this film to see what it was all about. Now if you’ve seen the movie or read the book you know that meat is something you shouldn’t be eating a lot of or even at all. My boyfriend was very taken aback by some of the things he learned about meat and animal products. He was particularly interested in the part that talks about how you can reverse the damage done by meat and animal products by simply taking them out of your diet and eating a whole foods plant based diet.
After watching the film he decided that we were going to cut meat down to one day a week and that we would be vegetarian the rest of the time. I was a vegetarian off and on growing up so I didn’t have a problem with this but he started to find it got harder and harder as the weeks went on. He lasted almost a month before he wanted to put meat back into our diet. He did take something away from the film though, he chooses vegetarian options more often then not and we only eat meat maybe three days a week.
On November 26th at 7:00 PM Transition Guelph will be hosting a viewing and discussion of Forks Over Knives at The Guelph Public Library – Main Library (100 Norfolk Street) FREE Admission with Library Card.

Forks over Knives (DVD
Forks over Knives: the plant-based way to health
Forks over Knives: the cookbook by Del Sroufe

DIY upholstery headboard

A few months back my boyfriend and I decided to make an upholsterd headboard for our bed. We had never done anything like this before but we gave it a try. It turns out upholstery is not as hard as it looks, I even got cocky enough to put puckered in buttons (also homemade) on the headboard.

All we used was a piece of wood the width of our bed and the height that we wanted, a thick piece of foam the same size as the wood, battan, and lots of material.
You can glue the foam onto the wood or use the batton to keep it in place. Lay the batton out on the floor and place the foam in the middle and then the wood on top of the foam. Using an industrial stapler, staple the batton to the wood on one side. This I found out is very important, you have to staple the oposit side first before you move on to the adjacent side otherwise it puckers. Once you have the batton attached trim around the staples edges so you don’t have a bunch of  excess. Lay your material down on the floor so the bad side is facing up. Place the batton covered foam on the fabric and repeat. To get your corners looking nice and taught fold the fabrick into many little pleats. TADA your head board is compleat!
If you want to do the buttons drill holes in the back where you want the buttons and use an unfolded coat hanger to go through the foam to the fabrick. Attach your buttons to thin wire and feed it back through the front, pulling it in untill you get the desired effect.  We used eye hooks srewed into the wood to attached the buttons but i’m sure there is a much better way.
To hang it on the wall we used a French Cleat. The video below shows you have to make one.

Books that help
Upholstery techniques and projects by David James
So simple upholstery
Beginners’ upholstery techniques by David James

The best cookbooks of all time (according to me)

If you haven’t guessed by now I love food, most of my posts are about food or cookbooks (I read them like novels) and I run the GPL’s Cook Book Club. I was talking with a friend the other day and she asked me what cookbook I couldn’t live without. I had such a hard time chosing just one so I came up with a list of 5 cookbooks I could not live without. I know some of you may wonder why I included one cookbook over another, but this is just the best cookbooks of all time to me.
#1 The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer: I love the Joy of Cooking as a kitchen reference. If you need to know anything it’s in there. The book has been in print continuously since 1936 and has sold more than 18 million copies.
#2 The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen: This is the book my mother use to cook from all the time when we were vegetarians. I love that this book if full of Mollie’s hand drawn illustrations and was handwritten for the first publication in 1977.
#3 The essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser: This book is full of culinary history spanning 150 years of distinguished food journalism. It’s so much fun to look back and see what was popular during the turn of the century and how much food tastes have changed over the years.
#4 Gluten-free Makeovers by Beth Hillson: Having an allergy is tough, I know I have a bunch, but having a gluten allergy is even harder. This book has been such a great help to me and so many others who have gluten or wheat allergies that I’ve done a post on this book already.
#5 A Vietnamese Kitchen by Ha Roda: This makes my top 5 because I’m fortunate enough to have been to Vietnam and to have taken a cooking class while I was there. The food is just so fresh and flavourful I don’t think I could live without it.
These are my top 5, leave a comment or email us at to let us know some of your favourites.

Good food on a tight budget

Eating well on a budget is a challenge.  Some people look to the Canada Food Guide to direct them but it doesn’t help with selecting the most nutritious food at the lowest cost.  A friend just sent me a link to EWG’s “Good Food on a Tight Budget” which looks like a great website to help select the foods that give you the most bang for your buck.  EWG has assessed nearly 1,200 foods and picked the best 100+ that pack in nutrients at a good price.  This site has lots of info to help you stretch your food dollars. 

  is a USA not-for-profit organization that marshals the power of information to protect human health and the environment. 

The Guelph Public Library also has books that can help you with your grocery budgeting:

Healthy meals for less : great-tasting simple recipes under $1 a serving. by McCoy, Jonni.

The $5 dinner mom cookbook : 200 recipes for quick, delicious, and nourishing meals that are easy on the budget and a snap to prepare.  by Chase, Erin (Erin E.)  The author of this book also has a great website:

Cut your grocery bill in half with America’s cheapest family : includes so many innovative strategies you won’t have to cut coupons. by Economides, Steve.