It is the time of year that we traditionally know as “a new start.”
It’s a time for renewal, but resolutions are not high on my list of things to stress over. For many people, they can lead to disappointment rather than enlightenment. Besides, we should not commit to making big changes only in January but rather any time during the year when we feel, shall I say, “less than excellent.”
As we settle into our new year, why not try these ideas.
Add to your regular routine
Upon rising, have a cup of hot water infused with the juice of half a lemon to cleanse the system before starting your day.
Also, try consistently taking a probiotic supplement to boost your digestive and whole system. HMF probiotic formula by Genestra is a great brand, as is Renew Life’s Ultimate Flora, available at health clinics or online from Rockwell Nutrition Canada.
Also, being Canadian, start supplementing with vitamin D during the winter. Check with your pharmacist for appropriate dosage information.
An improved method of preparation
Brining boosts flavour and moisture content. This extra preparation step earned a thumbs up in our kitchen, as did the high heat roasting method.
Brined paprika roasted chicken breasts
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts with uniform thickness, brined 4 (see below)
- 1 tbsp. melted butter (or oil) 15 mL
- 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 2 mL
- 1/2 tsp. paprika 2 mL
Note: Some meat products are sold pre-brined. Check your packaging before doing this step.
If you are preparing ahead of time, you can cover and refrigerate the chicken and salt water for up to four or five hours. When it is time to prepare your chicken, remove from the brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C).
Brush the chicken breasts with melted butter or oil for flavour and to seal in moisture and place in a large baking dish. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika and rub onto the chicken.
Roast for 15 to 18 minutes. Use a cooking thermometer to measure the temperature of the chicken in order to tell if it is fully cooked (160-170 F), When cooked, cover and let rest for five to 10 minutes. Enjoy sliced or whole.
You can also prepare these to be eaten throughout your busy week by refrigerating in a sealed container for up to three days. Side with fresh greens, steamed vegetables and baked potatoes or steamed rice. Source: adapted from www.gimmesomeoven.com.
A new recipe
Mushroom beef sliders
These little sliders are a step up from your basic burger. The mushroom added an interesting flavour.
- 1/2 c. bread or cracker crumbs 125 mL
- 1/4 c. dried and very finely chopped mushrooms* 60 mL
- 1 beaten egg 1
- 2 tbsp. milk or water 30 mL
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion 30 mL
- 1 tbsp. prepared mustard 15 mL
- 1 clove garlic minced or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder/seasoning 1 mL
- 1/4 tsp. salt (regular or seasoning salt) 1 mL
- 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 mL
- 1 lb. ground beef 454 g
- 6 dinner buns (smaller than hamburger buns)
Note: you can use fresh mushrooms that have been chopped well ahead of time so some moisture is released. Use a Magic Bullet to crumb soda crackers with dried mushrooms until it is like powder.
Oil and preheat a large skillet.
Combine the crumbs and mushroom together. Reserve about two tbsp. for the patty coating. In a large mixing bowl combine the egg and the milk/water. Stir the remaining crumb mix into the egg mix, onions, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Then add the ground beef and mix well. Make six small patties that are about 1/2 inch thick. Roll in some of the reserved crumb mixture and place in the oiled and heated skillet. Place in skillet and cook on medium heat until meat is cooked through and there is no pink in the centre, (about four minutes per side) or until a meat thermometer reads 170 C (340 F).
Place on prepared dinner buns and top with grated cheese of your choice (I enjoy jalapeno with cheddar) and any condiments that you enjoy. Serve with a green salad, soup, baked potato chips or fresh veggies and dip.
Serves three if you are serving two each and six if used as an appetizer dish (one slider each). Adjust recipe ingredients based on how many people you are serving.
A new ingredient
Try using flax in your menu choices to boost healthy fibre, omega 3 and protein consumption. You will notice the condition of your dry winter skin and hair improve as you make flax a healthy eating habit. Try to consume approximately two tbsp. of ground flax each day by choosing menu choices like the following.
Don’t want to rev up the blender for a winter morning smoother? Try kick-starting your day by filling a small serving bowl with a yogurt of your choice, preferably a high protein variety such as Greek, which is also low in sugar. I prefer plain, vanilla or honey flavoured. Sprinkle approximately two spoonfuls of ground flax over the yogurt and mix. Top with granola, chopped nuts and any berries that are available. It is a nutritious, colourful and substantial way to start your day.
Flax Banana Bread
- 1 3⁄4 c. unbleached white flour 425 mL
- 3⁄4 c. ground flax seed (grind in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet) 175 mL
- 3⁄4 c. sugar 175 mL
- 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
- 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
- 1⁄2 tsp. salt 2 mL
- 2 eggs 2
- 1⁄3 c. oil 75 mL
- 2-3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed 2-3
- 1/2 c. chopped nuts 125 mL
- 1/4 c. brown sugar 60 mL
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan; set aside.
Mix together flour, flax seed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Beat together eggs and oil in a separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients and mashed bananas alternately to egg and oil mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter in loaf pan. Pat down firmly into batter or swirl topping into batter with knife.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes. It yields one loaf.
Flax recipes source: Adapted from Flavourful Flax, a publication from the Flax Council of Canada.
For more information on flax, visit www.flaxcouncil.ca.
Flax Oatmeal Cookies
The oats, flax and nuts give these cookies “stay power” and nutrition. They are an old standby at our house.
- 1 c. butter, softened 250 mL
- 1 c. brown sugar, packed 250 mL
- 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
- 2 eggs 2
- 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
- 2 c. flour 500 mL
- 1 tsp. of each baking soda and powder 5 mL
- 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
- 1 c. oatmeal 250 mL
- 1/2 c. ground flax seed 125 mL
- 1 c. chopped nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pecans 250 mL
- 1 c. chocolate chips 250 mL
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
Cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, ground flax seed, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture until just blended. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Form into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Yield: 72 cookies.
Refresh your surroundings
As a form of winter renewal, bring nature indoors in the form of fresh living plants or simply a fresh flower arrangement.
Use the plants indoors not only for “green” beauty but also for air purification and oxygenation of your space. Spider plants, peace lilies, orchids, golden pathos, English ivy and succulents are just some of the many options that help to remove toxins from the air.
As well, gases from plastics, carpets, window coverings, paints and household chemical fumes can be greatly reduced by having healthy plants growing in your space.
A new scent
A warm bath after a long day is very soothing. The warm temperature prepares your body for restful sleep. You can even multi-task by combining reading time with tub time as you wind down.
Boost your benefits by adding 1 cup (250 mL) of Epson salts to your water and let the magnesium content of the salt take your aches and pains away.
To boost your sense of renewal, try using a few drops of pure orange oil in your bath water. Orange oil is known for it’s anti-inflammatory and gentle cleansing/detoxifying properties.
Also, consider a Natural Citrus body wash/bubble bath product by Kirkland that has an uplifting effect without you doing any mixing yourself.
Many bath products contain orange oil so check your labels and enjoy.
Do not soak in any harsh ingredients.
Also, try orange oil in your diffusers or add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Spritz throughout the spaces in your home for a fresh scent. This is a much healthier choice than using commercial air fresheners.
Some new information
If preventive health and healthy eating/aging is your aim, pick up two great reads by Natasha Turner: the Carb Sensitivity Program and her newest publication, The Hormone Boost.
If you’re looking for brain health information, check out The End of Alzheimer’s by Dale E. Bredesen.
For what I call “light or inspirational reading, try Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths For A Better Life by Humble The Poet, or Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know For Sure.
Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: email@example.com.