Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Portion Distortion - What are "serving sizes"?

The following information is copied from the Dairy Bureau of Canada (see link and reference below).  Using the hands to estimate portion sizes of food is also known as the Zimbabwean hand method.  It was developed in Africa for teaching the diabetic diet to local people with very few resources who are often illiterate.

Serving sizes and ranges, as suggested in Canada's Food Guide, are based on energy and nutrient requirements, and not on what is commonly thought of as a serving!  It's important to see how much food makes up a serving to make sure you don't have "portion distortion". The Pocket Serving Sizer and Food Guide (Dairy Bureau of Canada, 1999) offers a great method for figuring out what a serving size actually looks like.
serving sizer

Other Handy Tips for picturing what servings look like:
other tips

Or, you can keep it really simple, and just make sure your plate looks like this — don't forget the fruit and milk!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pad Thai - Platter Style - My Way

Pad thai varies from household to household and cook to cook.  Although my version isn't entirely authentic, everyone loves it.  I was honoured to be cooking with Andrew Parker and Dylan Zeppa this fine evening.  Andrew has been going to Fanshaw College in London so we are glad to have him back in the 'hood for a visit.  I am basically blogging this recipe for my kids as it is one of their favourite dishes and they want to be able to make it when they "move out."

My version has simplified the vegetables and sauce to use ingredients on hand.  I use a mixture of proteins including egg/omelet, firm tofu, chicken thigh and/or shrimp.  If you are vegetarian the recipe adapts well so follow along.... just use the tofu and/or roasted nuts.  The recipe is a bit long but once you get the knack of the various steps you will be able to make it faster.

 Makes 8 large servings/1 large party platter

350 gram package of tofu, sliced into strips

300 gram package (about 8 pieces) chicken thigh, boneless, skinless, cut in strips
1 bag shrimp, defrosted - I used organic DOM peeled and deveined shrimp (size 31-40)
vegetable oil for sauteeing
4 eggs, medium
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cilantro
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) + red hot chile pepper flakes

2 Tbsp (30 ml) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) ketchup
2 Tbsp (30 ml) worcestershire sauce (or fish sauce)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce - I used a light tamari
juice of one lime
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) hot chili paste
(use 1 tsp paprika if you don't like hot spicy food) 

1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil, smoked
4 cloves garlic, minced
6+ cups of green cabbage, shredded thin
2 sweet red peppers, in strips or squares
8 oz (227 g) box of white mushrooms, sliced

225 grams of Asian style thin rice noodles or vermicelli

Cilantro sprigs
1/2 cup (125 ml) toasted peanuts or cashews
2 fresh green onions, sliced into rings

1.  Squeeze excess water from tofu over sink using hands.  Squeeze gently like you are wringing water from a sponge.  Be careful not to break it up but remove as much moisture as you can before you are in danger of it falling apart.  Slice into narrow french fry style strips.  Heat a few tablespoons oil in non-stick pan until hot.  Add tofu and leave to brown and crisp on one side.  Flip.  The photo below shows the tofu browned and set aside in a large bowl.

2.  Add more vegetable oil and quick saute shrimp and then chicken pieces.  Add to the bowl with the tofu.

3.  Beat eggs with minced cilantro. 

Heat non-stick pan with a bit more oil.  Fry omelet in non-stick pan.  Sprinkle with fresh or dried hot chile pepper.

Fold in half and remove from pan.  Put on cutting board to cool and cut into strips.

4.  Combine sauce ingredients.  You can use Worcestershire sauce instead of fish sauce.  Fish sauce is more authentic so use it if you have it.  I used an organic gluten free Worcestershire sauce. 

5.  Prepare vegetables for Pad Thai.  I used shredded green cabbage, red peppers squares and sliced white mushrooms.  I use cabbage instead of beansprouts as I almost always have it on hand.  Heat smoked sesame oil and saute garlic and vegetables until tender crisp.

The photo above shows bits of carrots and broccoli I added to the mix as they were left from another meal and I wanted to use them up.  The recipe is pretty flexible as to what vegetables you can add.

6.  The photo of the noodles above are Chainly brand from Taiwan made of green bean and potato starch.  If you don't have Asian noodles you can improvise and use spaghetti or even egg noodles. You will need to cook those noodles according to the package directions if you substitute.

Soak Asian noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes in a large bowl.  Allow to soften but keep still firm. I used 6 bundles or 225 grams from the 300 g bag.

Drain noodles.  Cover and keep warm in bowl.

7.  To serve, assemble platter by spreading rice noodles around perimeter of a large platter.  Fill centre with Pad Thai.  Arrange omelet wedges over top and garnish with cilantro and toasted peanuts or cashews.  Arrange cooked shrimp around perimeter.  You can serve Pad Thai hot, warm or cold.

No one is complaining!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Banana Pancakes

These pancakes are easy, quick to make and use common kitchen ingredients.  They are my favourite use for bananas that are going brown and a little too ripe to eat.

Serves 6 people x 2 pancakes each = 12 pancakes


1 1/2 cup (375 ml) milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp (30 ml) oil or melted butter/margarine
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sugar or other sweetener
1 cup flour - I use whole-wheat
1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
2 ripe very bananas, mashed with a fork

1. Beat milk and eggs together with a fork in a large bowl.
2. Stir in the sugar and the oil.

3. Stir in flour and baking powder and combine until lumpy and mixed through.

4. Mash the bananas on a plate.

Add to mixture above and blend well. Don't over mix your pancakes as they become "tough" and gangster like.

5. Put a few teaspoons of oil in a skillet and heat it over over medium-high heat.  Then pan is ready when you can "dance" a few drops of water off the skillet.  Cook the first pancakes solo to see if the pan is hot etc.  At my house the first pancake is always for the dog!  They are ready to flip when air bubbles form around the surface of the pancake.  Fry the rest of the pancake batter.  You can add more oil to the pan between batches.

Serve with Nutmeg Syrup (recipe posted separately), jam, fruit, applesauce, yogurt etc.  Instead of banana you can also use mashed cooked apples or mashed cooked sweet potatoes, grated apples or carrots... If you ever have to cook a sweet potato or apple in a hurry just poke it with holes using a fork and nuke a few minutes.

© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
Visit me at http://www.chapmanslanding.com  
for course information, menus and registration. 

Really Easy Nutmeg Syrup

This recipe details how to make homemade pancake syrup or what is sometimes called Table Syrup in Canada. The recipe goes with Banana Pancakes posted separately. It is not hard to do and cheaper than buying it. Leftover syrup should be stored in the fridge and you can use it on fruit, ice cream or even cake.  This seems like a lot of nutmeg but it gives a true Island flavour.  The original recipe is from a blogger called 5 Star Foodie and she posted this recipe with the banana pancakes after her visit to a small hotel on the Caribbean Island of Mustique.  They have one hotel that can accomodate only 6 people!  The Rolling Stones and many other stars vacation here in seclusion.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsp ground nutmeg (optional but really good)

1. Add water, sugar and nutmeg to a small pot and stir well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. You can use a bit of vanilla instead of nutmeg.
2. Cook on medium heat, for a few minutes more, or until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup starts to thicken. Don't cook too long or you get fudge! But if you do get fudge you can add a few tablespoons of cold water and stir it around and cook awhile longer. When the syrup is done it should be light brown and coat the spoon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stuffed Peppers Two Ways - Ground Turkey and Vegetarian Versions

You can use leftover cooked rice in this recipe (e.g., Chinese takeout fried rice).  Any cooked grain would work well too - such as barley, quinoa or millet.  If you have leftover filling bake it in a small oven proof bowl and use it as a mini-meatloaf for sandwiches or wraps.  I have written the recipe to be 1/2 vegetarian and 1/2 meat as lots of times we need both to satisfy a crowd.  If you're vegetarian skip the meat instructions.  If you're a carnivore you should consider vegetarianism!  At least eat less meat.  It is the fastest way to reduce our carbon foot print!


6 peppers in total - I used 2 red, 2 yellow and 2 green
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lb (450 g) ground turkey, chicken, beef or pork 

3 cloves of garlic
1 cup (250 ml) onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup (125 ml) ketchup or barbecue sauce

1 cup (250 ml) brown rice, raw
2 eggs

1 cup (250 ml) mushrooms, chopped fine
1 cup (250 ml) carrot, grated or chopped real fine
2 tsp (10 ml) cumin, ground
2 tsp (10 ml) basil
2 tsp (10 ml) chili powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt (optional)
1/2 cup (125 ml) water for bottom of baking dish

Variations: grated cheese for top of peppers.  Use any type of spices or herbs you like and have on hand like Italian seasoning, dill, black pepper etc.  You can also used frozen mixed vegetables instead of the fresh mushrooms and carrots.


Preheat oven to 350'F (190 'C)

1.  Cook the rice in unsalted water according to package directions.
2.  Cut peppers in half vertically through the stems and discard inner seeds and membranes.  Keep the stems on as they look nice and help to hold in the filling.

3.  Mix all the ingredients except for ground chicken/turkey/beef with cooked rice.  Set half aside for the vegetarian batch.  Omit the egg if you are vegan.  They won't stick together as well without the egg but it will still work.  Add 90 ml water and 30 ml flour for some "glue" for vegan stuffed peppers if egg is omitted.

4.  Add ground chicken/turkey/beef to other half of rice and mix well.

5.  Fill half the peppers with vegetarian rice mixture and the other half with the meat and rice filling. You can mound them fairly high.  Arrange in a baking dish and add water to bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle over grated cheese of your choice (optional).  The picture below shows the vegetarian stuffed peppers.

6.  Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is set and peppers are cooked through to an internal temperature of 175'F (77'C).  You can also cook this dish in a microwave using Medium High power.  Cover with a paper towel and microwave 10 minutes.  Check for doneness and cook more if meat is not cooked all the way through.

© Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc
Visit me at http://www.chapmanslanding.com  
for course information, menus and registration. 
I also blog at 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Making Pizza from Scratch

OK kiddies here is how to make pizza, pay attention cause I'm only typing this once. Read the instructions right through before proceeding. This makes two large pizzas.

contributed by Jason Zeppa

4 cups (1 liter) flour
1/2 tsp salt (2.5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) total dried herbs like basil, thyme, rosemary
1 and 2/3 cup (250 ml + 175 ml) warm water 
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) sugar
1/3 cup (85 ml) olive oil - total liquid to make 2 cups

You need flour usually white all purpose but if you want to be healthy, as if it really is a choice, use whole wheat flour mix- half white and whole wheat is best. What you need to do is measure out 4 cups of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add to this a half teaspoon of salt and dried herbs like basil or Italian seasoning.

Next you will need one and two thirds cups warm water, to this add two packages of instant dried yeast with a little sugar. Place this container in a draft free warm area and let the yeast activate.  When it is frothy add a third cup olive oil to the water, yeast and sugar to make a total of 2 cups of liquid.

Add the liquid to the flour stirring with a large spoon until it forms a ball. With your hand work the dough, pushing it into itself for a few minutes at most. Do not work the dough much, this is very important. You do not have to throw it and roll it, you are going to push it on the pans to cover them. Maybe I'll make a youtube video so stay tuned. If the dough is too hard, you can add more water. But here is the catch - you have to know that it is going to be to hard before it is turned into a ball. You can tell if the dough is not forming a ball quickly. If it is hard add a little water. If it is too soft you can just add more flour and this is no problem. So here is a hint - a wet dough is easy to fix so a little extra water in the mix is a good idea until you get the hang of this.

You must let the dough rise until it doubles in size, make sure you cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm draft free area. This doubling might not be possible if you use all whole wheat flour. The stove is the best place for the dough. But if it is too warm (see preheating below) you might actually start to cook the pizza dough.

HOME TOMATO SAUCE for pizza base.
1 onion, fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
2 tsp (10 ml) dried herbs -like Italian mix, basil, chili flakes etc.
1 clove or more crushed fresh garlic
2 cans diced tomatoes - 798 ml (28 fl oz) each
1 tin tomato paste (156 ml)

The sauce is easy, you need to saute one onion for approx. 4 minutes with olive oil and some herbs - Italian mix is nice, basil is good, chili flakes are nice. Add raw crushed garlic. Garlic burns easy, so make sure you cook over medium heat and cook it only for a few more minute. The add two cans of plum tomatoes (798 ml each) with the juice and also one can of tomato paste (156 ml). You should start this before you start the dough. For you'll need to simmer with lid off and reduce this by a third. A large sauce pan is best for this process but a large pot will work.

Now you will need pizza pans or cookie pans; large is good. This recipe makes two pizzas in 18 inch pans (45 cm).  You have to oil the pans, if not the dough will stick. Take half the dough, place in the center of the pan, pat it down and start to work the dough towards the edge of the pan. If the dough is sticky add a little flour to your hands and sprinkle a little on the dough itself. You have to turn the pans pushing the dough to the edges, it it tears just pinch the dough together. If the dough is hard you can roll it with a rolling pin on a cutting board. Not in the pan.


Mozzarella cheese - we used part skim mozzarella by Black Diamond - about 6 cups total (1.5 liter) or 3 cups (750 ml) per pizza

Yellow, red or green peppers slice thin - one should do two pizzas

Red Onion, sliced thin

Dried or cooked meat (or not... vegetarian pizza is great) or 500 grams of cooked and seasoned ground pork 
Optional additions: your choice of favourite pizza veg like sliced olives or tomatoes

Well I'm sure you know the rest, buy good quality cheese, and fresh veggies, and dried meats. Cooked ground beef or pork or cook Italian sausage is a great addition.  The photo below is of a 500 grams of ground pork cooked with spices for the meat topping (e.g., add fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary, garlic, hot chile etc.) to your liking.  Use the spoon to break up the meat as you saute it in a non-stick skillet.  You want it dry and crumbly for the pizza topping.

Now kids, preset the oven to 450 degrees F'.  Hot, yes, the hotter the better. You have to keep an eye on this because it could be done in less the 12 minutes in a hot running stove. Check to bottom to see if it is brown, and if the topping and cheese is bubbling this is a good sign that it is time to set the table. If you have not already done so. Be creative with your topping selection.

Let the pizza cool in the pan for a bit, 5 to 10 minutes if you can wait, so that the toppings and cheese don't get messed up when you cut it with a pizza cutter.

PS don't burn the pizza keep it on the middle rack of the oven. Preheating the oven is a must.

Happy cooking.

Christian says this is really good pizza!  Let me know what you think!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fish and Veggie Batter

Follow this link to see the newest post by Jasper Zeppa Guppy at facebook for Fish and Veggie Batter

Batter Recipe:

3/4 cup flour ( I used whole wheat )
2 tsp dry dill
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar ( I used apple cider vinegar )
3/4 cup water

Mix flour, dry dill, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl mix baking soda and vinegar, stir, then add to dry mixture.
Add water and beat until smooth.

We battered haddock, scallops, shrimp, yams, onions, carrots, green peppers, and zucchini.

When frying use a deep pan and have a spit guard. Be sure to have enough oil in the pan for the seafood and vegetables to be suspended above the bottom of the pan. If anything starts to stick it means you need more oil.

After frying save the oil in a mason jar and place in the fridge. You can use it again the next time you fry!

Bon appetit! :)