A little list for the lovely Miss Rosa.

Dearest Miss Rosa,

Bated breath, you say? Desperation? Sure. I got your back. I’m glad you don’t think it’s all butter, bacon fat, and liver failure around here. It often is, but sometimes I like to give our livers something they can use.

Here are ten things you might enjoy, all of which you can adjust to fit the GI diet and your fabulous new figure. Whenever we’re cutting back, I increase the amount of spice that goes into things, which makes it easier to go without the fat. While there’s popular research that suggests certain spices affect one’s metabolism favourably, I find that the biggest thing is that we eat less and also more slowly when there’s more zing to things, which means that after 20 minutes of eating we feel satisfied, not disgustingly full. (Also, don’t forget that fat is your friend sometimes too, you know?)


Avgolemono – this lemony chicken broth and rice soup is perfect when paired with a little whole grain bread and a salad (salads need not be boring … but that’s a whole other post). You can substitute vegetable stock, if you like. Also, homemade chicken stock goes a long way – start with better quality chicken (free-range/organic), and veggie scraps. I like homemade because you can control the salt and fat that goes into it. Better for dinners or weekend lunches, as it doesn’t re-heat as well as other soups.

Red bean soup – this soup contains an impressive amount of fibre, thanks to the red beans and sweet potatoes, and almost no fat. Reheats well, and if you use less liquid it’s versatile as a dip or spread.

Heartier fare:

Winter chili – similar in taste and ingredients to the red bean soup, to make this a little more GI-friendly, use low-carb beer or skip the beer all together and use stock or water.

Easy tomato curry – use low-fat coconut milk, yogurt, or buttermilk, and this will be all kinds of all right. Even better the next day, over whatever grain you like. We eat a lot of brown rice, but you could certainly serve it over barley, bulgur, or kasha.

Chana masala – another dish that’s even better the next day. Eat it as a side dish, or as a main dish with low-fat raita and brown rice.

Tomato sauce on pasta – well-tested by the Internet, this one is flavourful, and a complete cinch to make. It’s also super versatile. Best made with sub-par tomatoes, which benefit from a long cooking time. The longer you roast the tomatoes, the better. The olive oil unlocks the lycopene in the tomatoes, which makes the dish a cancer-fighting super entrée.

Lamb burgers – use fresh local lamb and whole wheat buns (make sure there’s no secret high-fructose corn syrup hidden in the ingredients list), and you will be all kinds of pleased. Alternately, if you make a few adjustments to the venison burgers (no butter, no brie, and do the duxelles with olive oil), they can be quite good for you as well.

Baked goods:

Leftovers muffins – when you end up with leftover rice or whatever, make these muffins. Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and applesauce instead of melted butter to cut calories, and low-fat yogurt or yogurt and buttermilk instead of the yogurt-milk combo, and honey instead of sugar.

Olive oil orange cookies – again, use whole wheat instead of white flour, a whole wheat pastry flour which will produce a nicer textured cookie. There’s also whole wheat flour now that’s ground so fine it can be used in place of all-purpose with relative ease – I’ve tried it and don’t mind it one bit. And use applesauce again, but this time instead of the wine. I haven’t tried liquid sugars like honey or agave syrup with this recipe yet, but if you do, let me know how it works out.

Carrot cake with blood orange – cut down the sugar by substituting honey, about 1/2-cup, and go with the whole wheat flour, which you won’t even notice here. You can make this into muffins if you want it to be more portable.

Of course, there are a million things you can do and a ton of resources online as well (I’d be happy to point you to some, or some others, if you’re interested, but I’ve already taken up a lot of space with no pictures). Stay tuned for a few wholesome, healthy recipes this week as well, as we’re tightening our belts a bit – nothing sexy about back fat in a bikini, as you may know. Tomorrow I’m making something like chana dal, and I’m pretty certain it will be a spicy little vegan number you will be able to carry to work with you. The day after will not be particularly healthy (probably), but I’ll keep you in mind so you don’t get too bored and fall off the wagon.



PS – because there weren’t any pictures here and this doesn’t count as a recipe post, here’s a picture of my cat. For visual interest. And because I don’t care who thinks I’m weird.

Burger night, but we had no buns or money.

It occurred to me recently that the reason all of my work clothes were faded and full of holes is that I haven’t actually bought anything for work in years, which also explains why I had begun to look so slovenly and outmoded. I am the kind of person who will go shopping for pants and come home with a sequined party dress, so was no surprise that I didn’t have anything practical that I could wear for a job interview I’ve got this week. So we looked at our bank accounts, decided that we’ve been responsible enough with our bills lately and that they could be ignored this payday, and determined that I could go shopping if I was smart about it and promised not to buy anything with sequins. If I get the job, I’m going to buy whatever dress I want.

So, because I had to buy a lot of grey and black clothes, and because we were down to our last as far as essential grocery items, and because life is full of surprises, this has been a big spending week, and now we’re poor again. But I wanted turkey burgers, because had ground turkey thighs in the freezer and one last jar of zucchini relish in the cupboard. The only thing we didn’t have was buns. Solution? Homemade hamburger buns.

The recipe is based on a recipe I dug out of the old Fannie Farmer, but I’ve adapted it to suit normal people’s lives. Who keeps dried milk powder on hand, and how many people other than me hoard lard in their freezer for no particular reason other than greed? I have no idea, but I think no one. This is a more modern, much more convenient take on things.

Hamburger buns

(Makes 12)

  • 2 packages (or 4 1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 cup milk, warmed slightly
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (alternative: use olive oil, if you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, whisk together yeast, honey, and milk. Let stand for five minutes, or until yeast has begun to foam on top.

Mix butter, egg, and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. Add two cups flour, and stir until a paste has formed. Gradually add the rest of the flour until the paste becomes a dough.

Turn out onto a floured surface, knead for about a minute, and then cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, return to the dough, kneading until smooth and elastic, about eight to ten minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, in a warm place, and let stand until doubled in bulk, 60 to 90 minutes.

Punch down dough, and divide into two equal pieces. Divide each piece in two again, and then each of those pieces into three, for twelve pieces of dough, roughly equal in size.

Grease two baking sheets, and sprinkle with cornmeal, if desired.

Roll each piece into a ball, pinching the bottom to secure the shape.

Place dough balls on baking sheets, pressing each ball flat with your palm, so that each ball forms a disc about a 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Let rise again, covered in plastic wrap and dish towels, until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake buns at 425°F, for about 20 minutes, until golden, then place on a wire rack until cool.

Slice in half and top with your favorite burger patty and condiments. Serve with “easy frites.” Or use as bread for your favourite sandwiches.