So It's January Again...
Welcome to the first installment on cooking and eating. Over the coming months I want to share with you some ideas that will get you thinking more about the way you eat and the choices you make when you go to the grocery store.
So once again it’s January and you’ve resolved to eat better and try to shed a few (or more) pounds. Where do you begin? The first thing is not to look at it as punishment for overeating during the holidays. That just perpetuates the vicious cycle of binging and dieting, which is unhealthy. To most people, dieting means depriving yourself of things you enjoy eating, and that’s no way to live. The secret to successful weight loss is to change your eating habits without denying yourself the foods you love.
Recently I had the opportunity to develop two hundred recipes for Rick Gallop’s G.I. Diet Cookbook (Random House, 2006). The diet is based on the Glycemic Index (G.I.), developed by University of Toronto's Nutrition Professor David Jenkins. G.I. measures the speed at which foods are broken down by the body to form glucose, the body’s source of energy. High G.I. foods break down quickly and leave you feeling hungry. Low G. I. foods break down more slowly and leave you feeling fuller, longer. The diet is based on an easy-to-follow traffic light colour system. Red light foods are ones to avoid, yellow light can be used in small amounts, and green light foods can be eaten in any amount. The diet is safe and backed by the medical profession. It can reduce your risk from heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and many cancers. I don’t receive royalties on the sales of the book – I am including it in this column because I really believe in the principles of this diet. What I really like is that you don’t ever feel like you’re eating “diet food,” and you can easily get your whole family to eat this way. Whether or not you want to lose weight, it is a great blueprint for healthy eating. The recipes are simple, flavourful and most of the dishes take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Here’s a recipe from the book that’s reminiscent of Spanish regional cooking. It’s one-pot, great for a weeknight meal or entertaining. It’s even better made a day ahead and reheated.
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 lb skinless chicken breasts and thighs
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 6 oz Italian-style turkey sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 2 peppers (any colour), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
- 1 (28 oz) can tomatoes, drained and quartered
- 1 (19 oz) can cannellini (white kidney) beans
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp chopped mixed fresh herbs
(choose from rosemary, oregano, thyme, marjoram)
- 1 tsp paprika, preferably smoked
- 1/4 large orange, unpeeled, cut in four pieces
- 1/2 cup olives
Preheat oven to 350ºF. In large, deep ovenproof frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides. Remove to plate. Add remaining 2 tsp olive oil and sausage, garlic, onion and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is golden brown. Stir in rice, tossing to coat. Stir in tomatoes, beans, stock, wine, tomato paste, herbs and paprika. Place chicken on top of mixture. Place olives and orange over top. Cover and bring to a simmer on top of stove. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour or until chicken and rice are cooked. Makes 6–8 servings.
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Laura Buckley is a chef and recipe consultant. She trained at the Stratford Chefs School and has worked in the kitchens of some of the top restaurants in Toronto. She also ran a catering company, called Eats of Eden, cooking for rock stars to royalty. She develops and tests recipes for cookbooks and magazines, teaches cooking classes, and is co-editor of All Stirred Up (Random House, 2003) and recipe developer for The G.I. Diet Cookbook (Random House, 2006). Laura is on the board of directors of the Women’s Culinary Network and a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Slow Food. She lives in Markham, Ontario with her husband and adolescent twins.