My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the tag “healthy eating”

Canadian Pea Soup


Last Sunday looked like this all day:


I didn’t do my hair or wear makeup. I crawled into my comfy clothes and headed straight to my Harrowsmith’s cookbook for some cozy food. I landed on this recipe:


This would be perfect because over Easter Nick bought a ham. Well, he bought a seven pound spiral honey ham…for the two of us. With a huge mountain of leftovers, I had wrapped some ham and the ham bone in plastic wrap and tinfoil so I could freeze them. Here was my chance to use both.


So I assembled my ingredients and set to work.


I took a bunch of the leftover ham and chopped it to add to the soup at the end. I don’t like the texture of the boiled meat as much so I add my ham late in the recipe.


I soaked my split peas for two hours. I used a mix of yellow and green split peas because that’s what I found in the pantry.


I drained the peas.


I put all the ingredients except the sour cream into the pot and just covered it with cold water.


I brought it to the boil and then reduced it to a simmer.


Here’s what it looked like after two hours. The peas were tender so I took out the ham bone.


I blended the soup with my stick blender and added the sour cream.


Then I added the cold, chopped ham into the soup and simmered for 15 minutes more.


This soup is rich and hearty, perfect for a rainy day. Enjoy!


Spicy Snack Mix

As you may have gathered from my recipe posts, I am a snacker. I love snacks. I’m also trying to eat healthier. Dilemma. I like snacking on carrot sticks and apple slices but I can’t kid myself. We all know the best snacks are salty or sweet and carb-rich. My lousy reptile brain always makes me crave those carbs.

One way to snack a bit healthier is to eat spicy snacks, like my spicy snack mix. The crunch of the chow mein noodles and pretzels is satisfying but the burst of spice stops me before I eat too many. I have made this recipe fairly mild. Feel free to keep adding hot sauce until you get your desired level of spice. You can even sprinkle on some cayenne pepper or chili flakes if you’re worried about your snack mix getting too soggy.


NOTE: In my photos I have doubled the recipe because I was making some to enjoy and some to give away to my mom. The recipe below makes about 2 1/2 cups.


2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, to taste (use the brand you like best)

14 teaspoon celery salt

18 teaspoon garlic powder

2 1/2 cups chow mein noodles, pretzels, cereal bits (like Crispex or Chex). I used mostly noodles because that’s what I had, but you can change the ratio to whatever you like.

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Combine melted butter with soy sauce and hot pepper sauce; drizzle over the noodles.


Toss lightly to coat noodles.


Sprinkle with celery salt and onion powder; toss to mix well.


Spread noodles in a large shallow baking pan or jelly roll pan. Bake at 275° for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.


Easy Lime Salad Dressing

This dressing is so simple and low-calorie. Try it with your favourite salad.


Makes 6 fl oz.


1 tsp water

Large pinch salt

Large pinch lime zest

2 tsp dried mint (mine was from my garden, but the stuff in the jar works just fine.)

4 tbsp lime juice

4 fl oz olive oil

Large pinch black pepper



Zest your lime.


Combine the water, salt and lime zest in a jar. Let stand for 2 minutes.

Add the mint, lime juice, olive oil and black pepper.


Cover the jar tightly and shake for 1 minute. This dressing is light and has a sharp burst of lime. Enjoy!



Corn and Cilantro Crab Cakes

These crab cakes are an easy dinner or a nice appetizer. The sweet crab and corn are complimented by the bite of the cilantro, ginger and hot pepper.Try them and enjoy!


1/4 cup minced celery

1/2 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp hot pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 tins crab meat

1/2 cup corn

2 tbsp cilantro

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil




I used this blend of ginger, garlic and chili, but you can add each ingredient separately.


Mix the first eight ingredients in a bowl.


Fold in the corn, crab and cilantro.


Add 1 cup of the bread crumbs until just combined.


Press the remaining bread crumbs onto the outside of the patties. I ran out of regular breadcrumbs so I used Panko bread crumbs. You can use either.


Form into four patties for entrée servings or eight patties for appetizers.


Chill the patties in the fridge for at least one hour and up to one day.


Heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Cook two patties for 4 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate and keep warm in the oven.


Wipe out the pan and repeat with remaining butter, olive oil and patties. Serve warm with cocktail sauce or sriracha mayonnaise.



Winter-Warmer Beef Stew


Nothing is better after an afternoon of snow shoveling than warm, rich beef stew. This is my go-to recipe but you can substitute and add things as much as you like. There really is no right way to make stew.


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
  • 1.5 kg well-marbled stewing beef cut in 1-inch (2.5 cm cubes)
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry red wine or some kind of juice (I used cranberry as that’s what I had.)
  • 450 g mini white potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 3 large carrots, cut in 1 1/2-inch thick (4 cm) chunks (halve bigger pieces)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups (750 mL) sodium-reduced beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) frozen peas


I started by washing and chopping up my veggies for quick cooking later on.


In large bowl, I whisked the flour, salt and pepper together and then tossed it with beef to coat.


In my Dutch oven, I heated 2 tbsp of the butter and the oil over medium heat. I worked in small batches, cooking the beef until it was browned, about 20 minutes total. Using slotted spoon, I remove ed the beef to bowl and set it aside.


Using slotted spoon, I removed the beef to bowl and set it aside.


I added the remaining butter to Dutch oven and cooked the celery, mushrooms and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.


I added the tomato paste and cooked it, stirring, for 2 minutes. Doing this removes the tinned flavour from the paste.


The I added the cranberry juice, stirring and scraping up browned bits, for about 2 minutes.


At this point I had to move my stew from the Dutch oven to a larger pot as I ran out of room. The moral of the story is to use a large Dutch oven or stew pot! I returned the beef and the juices in the bowl to the pot. I added the potatoes, carrots, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.


I stirred in the broth and the Worcestershire sauce. I brought it to a boil, stirring occasionally to loosen any remaining browned bits from bottom.


I covered and braised the stew in a 350 F (180 C) oven for 45 minutes. Then I uncovered it and continued to cook it until the vegetables were tender and the beef offered no resistance when pierced with tip of knife, about 30 to 40 minutes. I stirred in the frozen peas and cooked for 5 more  minutes.


There was a little fat on the surface so I skimmed it off and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Nick and I had been smelling delicious stew for hours so we dove right in and I didn’t even take a picture of our finished bowls! Ah well, I can assure you it was delicious.


Homemade Applesauce


I love making my own applesauce. It’s easy and I can adjust the taste to my liking. Today I’m going to show you how to make your own applesauce. I’ll be making a small batch to put in the fridge, but you can easily make a double batch and can or freeze it for long-term storage.

On a recent drive into the countryside, Nick and I stopped into McCully Hill Farm.


I purchased some Gala, Empire and Spartan apples. You can use any blend of apples that you like. I suggest you use both sweet and tart apples that are fairly soft for easy cooking.



  • 3 to 4 lbs of apples (about 7 to 10 apples, depending on the size), cored, and quartered
  • 4 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths, zest only, not the pith)
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp lemon juice (more or less to taste)
  • tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt


Start by coring and cutting up the apples. I leave the skin on mine but if you like a smoother texture you can peel the apples first.


Use a vegetable peeler to peel four large strips of lemon peel.


Place the cored and quartered apples into a large pot with the strips of lemon peel, the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sugar, water and salt. You might want to start with half the sugar at this point and add more to taste later.


Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the temperature, cover the pot, and maintain a low simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the apples are completely tender and cooked through.


Once the apples are cooked through, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the lemon peels. Use a stick blender to blend up the sauce to your desired texture. Add more sugar to taste. If too sweet, add more lemon juice.


I poured mine into Mason jars to store in the fridge and freezer. You can also freeze this sauce in plastic containers and keep it in the freezer for up to a year.


This sauce is rich and delicious. The combination of the spices and the lemon in it make it more complex than the store-bought stuff. Try it for yourself and enjoy!




Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

So as promised in yesterday’s post, I am going to help you take those delicious roasted red peppers and make a quick, easy pasta dinner.

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  • 12 ounces, weight pasta of your choice (I used penne)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 whole large onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, chopped and seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Shavings (more for serving)
  • Finely minced parsley
  • Chopped fresh basil (dried works too but isn’t as tasty)

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Onion, garlic and chili.

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Parsley and basil from my garden.

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I also added mushrooms and left-over sliced sausages to my recipe, but these are optional elements.


Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, chili and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until starting to soften.

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Add the chopped red peppers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.

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Remove the skillet from the heat. Carefully transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or blender. Place on the lid and puree the pepper mixture until totally blended (there will still be some texture to the peppers.)

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Heat the other 2 tablespoon butter back to the skillet over medium heat. This is when I sautéed the mushrooms and sausages.

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Pour the pepper puree back into the skillet. Add the broth, salt, and pepper, and stir until heated.

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Splash in the cream and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if you need to.

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Add Parmesan and parsley/basil, then stir it together.

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Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Stir to coat the pasta.

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Serve in bowls with extra Parmesan and a sprinkling of parsley on top.

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This dish took me about 15 minutes and it was delicious! I think my husband liked his. Enjoy!

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If you have women in your life who you care about, you need to learn a new word – dietainment. Check out the videos from General Mills below:

Girls and women of all ages can get caught up in the entertainment the media has injected into dieting. Increasingly, younger girls are viewing and being affected by these ad campaigns. Think your seven-year-old daughter is too young to be thinking of starting a diet? Think again. There are billboards, articles and videos everywhere urging her to just lose a little more weight, look a little more glamorous, and buy into unhealthy eating habits in the name of beauty. The worst part is that magazines, websites and television shows target the insecurities of women and tell them that if they aren’t actively dieting, they are less than other women. It’s even more demeaning when these marketing schemes claim that women need to diet for their health.

If you want to help, talk to the women in your life about healthy eating versus dieting. Make sure they aren’t falling prey to dietainment. Get rid of the media that promotes dietainment in your home and limit young girls’ exposure to this unhealthy trend in media. Finally, you can visit and sign the General Mills petition to create a world without dieting. I’ve signed and shared this petition and I hope you will too!


Spinach Soup

So my little garden patch of spinach has been growing abundantly. That means there are some spinach recipes coming your way, starting with spinach soup. As a teacher I find the summer is a great time to stock the freezer and pantry with easy meals and preserves for the fall. This soup is easy, delicious and it freezes for up to six months. I suggest you freeze it in empty ice cream or yogurt containers, (but don’t microwave these containers as they are not microwave safe!) This might also make its way on to your summer menus as you can serve it chilled.

Here is the recipe from my trustworthy Harrowsmith's Cook book.

Here is the recipe from my trustworthy Harrowsmith’s Cookbook.

So here is the spinach from my garden. You can use regular or baby spinach. Baby spinach has a milder flavour.

Here is the spinach from my garden. You can use regular or baby spinach. Baby spinach has a milder flavour.

These are your ingredients. See recipe above for details.

These are your ingredients. See recipe above for details.

I used green onion in my soup but you can also use white, yellow or red onion. Choose the one you like best.

I used green onion in my soup but you can also use white, yellow or red onion. Choose the ones you like best.


Add the spinach and when it wilts, add the peas and rice.

Give the a good saute.

Give everything a good stir.

Pour in the stock.

Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.

Cover and

Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the cream (or milk if you're going low-fat).

Add the cream (or milk if you’re going low fat).

I puree mine using a blender stick but you could batch blend it in a blender or food processor.

I puree mine using a blender stick but you could batch blend it in a blender or food processor.

Serve with sour cream and dill to garnish.

Serve with sour cream and dill to garnish.


Spring Cleaning Week 3

I did it! I only had sweets twice this week. It was difficult given all the Easter treats floating around but I accomplished my goal. I feel so good about having stuck to my plan even when it was difficult. Now I can move onto a new goal and make myself even healthier.


No food after 7pm – Accomplished.

No sweets except on exception days – Accomplished.

Stay tuned for a new goal next week!

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