SECTION blog

Enjoy the Journey

If you had to choose between eating bacon every day or being skinny for the rest of your life, which would you choose….. Hickory or Applewood smoked? – unknown

Regardless of who we are and where we are starting from, there are two rules that dictate our results. Balance and consistency. This is slightly upsetting to most of us to find out that unless we apply these rules to our daily lives, we won’t be nailing our perfect vision of health. From a chef’s point of view, with a slightly greater emphasis on enjoying life over living the straight and narrow, I have struggled with this. For this reason I thought it would be more appropriate to shed some light on the importance of spoiling ourselves along the way versus faking my way through the likes of understanding the counting of micros and macros.

I believe that living a full life definitely includes a good variety of non-restrictive delicious food moments. These are the rewards to the hard work. The balance to putting in the time at the gym (Where I struggle).Luckily there are foods out there that satisfy both ends of the equation for our day to day eating such as the recipe below. Life is too short not to indulge while we work on our consistent exercise routine. In the meantime…. Am I going to eat that poutine? Am I going to have those mini donuts? Damn rights I am! This is not a time to sweat the small stuff but rather turn off that little voice and live a little. Because in the end we need all of those satisfactory feel good moments so we can keep enduring the healthy moments

You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred. – Woody Allen

Life is simply just too short not too enjoy! Strive for balance and consistency

This recipe covers the bases. You feel spoiled eating it and your body will say thank you. The best of both worlds

Beef Ragu with Mashed Garlic Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6 – 8

3 lb beef shoulder – cubed

2 T olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced parsnips

8+ cloves of garlic – halved

Rosemary + thyme – fresh or dried

4 T tomato paste

Kosher salt

Black pepper

2 cups beef broth

1 cup dry red wine

Heat a heavy bottom pot on a med-high burner. Add olive oil and allow to heat. Season your beef with salt and pepper. Add beef shoulder in small batches to the pot to brown evenly, setting each batch aside until all the beef is done. This browning step will add a rich depth of flavor to the end results. Next add chopped vegetables and garlic to pot along with tomato paste and herbs. Continue to stir and cook on medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes. At this point you should smell some serious aromatic deliciousness and a layer of caramelization will begin to form on the bottom of the pot. Add the red wine and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to deglaze the flavors and then follow with the beef broth. Stir to combine and then return beef to the pot. Cover with a lid and place in a preheated 325 F oven for 2 hours. Prepare mashed sweet potatoes during this time. After 2 hours, remove beef from oven and taste. Adjust salt if necessary. Serve over mashed sweet potatoes with a glass of red wine of course.

Mashed Garlic Sweet Potatoes

Peel Sweet Potatoes and place in a pot with 2 inches of water, 6 – 8 cloves of garlic and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Cover and steam until tender, approx. 15 minutes. Drain remaining water and add a generous amount of butter (grass-fed if you’re feeling the love). Mash to desired consistency. Enjoy!

Clean Eating

The buzz is everywhere around clean eating. Have you found yourself wondering what all the hype is about this modern, hip way of eating? When I ponder the basic guidelines around clean eating it becomes clear that this is actually kind of retro: consuming whole seasonal foods, as close to their natural state as possible; and slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the ingredients and the experience of our food. It seems to me that our ancestors 100 years ago were doing just that.

So then what does it take to eat a clean diet in today’s world? It takes focusing our diet on whole, real foods. Restricting processed and refined foods and especially simple carbs and sugar. Emphasis on quality protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats and then consuming this all in a balanced manner. Eat 5-6 smaller meals/day. Preparing ingredients that you understand where and who it came from, putting us more in tune with our food.
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Pizza Pie

Pizza… the story of pizza begins in various countries around the world in the form of flat bread. Each geographical location embraced its own version of flat bread using grains and cooking methods suitable to their culture and region. These original breads allowed for a quick and easy source of nourishment. Now imagine the genius leap of faith from flat bread to pizza that a Neapolitan pizza maker by the name of Raffaele Esposito took in June of 1889. The story goes that he created a pizza in honour of the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. A pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag – this is known today as the Margherita pizza. It seems to me that once again some of the greatest food arises from humble beginnings and pure necessity.
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Cast Iron Cooking

Cast Iron Cooking It’s all about the simple things in life, especially when it comes to cooking. With food, if it’s complicated and swanky then I tend to steer clear. This is where cooking with my treasured cast iron pans come into play. Leave the comforts of your non-stick skillet for a moment and come with me on a journey of discovery. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to conjure up rugged and rustic thoughts of food when talking about cooking with a cast iron pan. This style of cooking has a certain amount of nostalgia to it. Used by settlers, chuckwagon cooks and cowboys of the Old West, it may be something you would expect to see in a museum of how our ancestors cooked. The fact that a cast iron pan is beyond versatile and nearly indestructible are qualities that were favoured in those golden years. One or two pans of heavy black iron and they could cook almost anything over an open fire for a substantial crew of hungry mouths.
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Entertain…and having fun while doing it! 

The whole entertaining thing doesn’t have to conjure up images of hours upon hours in the kitchen, stressed out for days, trying to find ingredients you’ve never heard of and crossing fingers that last minute preparations will yield pleasant results. I have learned over the years that stressing over a large menu of complicated preparations is always a bad idea. I now follow the “less is more” theory by choosing items that are simple to prepare, can be done ahead of time for the most part. For quick and stress-free menu items I often take old favorites and add a new twist to freshen it up. Some items may not even require preparations, but more so assembly, like a cheese platter. A few olives, honey, toasted almonds and dried fruit, alongside some nice cheese and crackers and you are done. The bottom line is… leave as little preparation for last minute as possible. Plan your menu with this in mind! I also invite each of my guests to bring one dish they would like to share… taking even more stress off my shoulders. After all a table of food prepared by a variety of people is always exciting to see and enjoy and it even inspires more conversation.  
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Garlic, The Sweet Breath of Life!

What says I love you more than a gift of garlic. After all, research has shown that garlic may be beneficial to our health in a multitude of ways including lowering blood lipid levels, anti-blood coagulation, anti-hypertension, anti-cancer, antioxidant and anti-microbial effects as well as stimulating the liver and preventing the common cold. So all of this is pretty darn convincing as to why we should consuming garlic in our diet. The deal is, I eat garlic with little consideration of its health benefits and every consideration to its flavor benefits. read more