Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 7, 2014 - A Canadian Food Year's Resolution

The Canadian Food Experience Project began June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.

Last year I lost forty pounds.

I can tell you it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done in my life but it was far from the most difficult. All I did was get up and start moving. I drank more water than I ever did before. I made sure I went for at least one 1-hour walk a day, or two if I could. On cold and crappy days, I walked up and down the stairs at work and in my house until I was profusely sweating.

The reasons why I lost weight were multitudinous, but one of the key reasons why was that because I love food. I love REAL food. I love wheat when it’s ground into flour, mixed with salt, water, and yeast, left to rise, thumped down, left to rise again, and put into an oven. There is no greater food aroma on this earth than the scent of baking bread. Real bread. With gluten. And a pinch of sugar to help the yeast rise. I love real sugar! And I love honey and maple syrup and sugar beets. I love flaky puff pastry made with real, cold, creamy butter. In fact, just give me a croissant right now, hot from the oven, with just a touch of peanut butter and honey, or maybe baked with some frangipane and chocolate in the middle.

The problem is that there is Type 2 Diabetes on both sides of my family. And in January 2013, I was overweight bordering on obese with hypertension through the roof. So I had to make a choice – go on pills for the rest of my life and give up the foods I love, or do something about it.  Rage against the machine-made foods, like aspartame, gluten-free, margarine…I just threw up a little writing those words down.

So I started to walk. And drink water. And walk some more. No, I didn’t diet. If you followed my food blog from last year, I was making some pretty tasty things. All I did was follow that wonderful word that more of us in the First World need to heed: moderation . Yes, I made a New Orleans-style King Cake for Mardi Gras, but I didn’t eat the whole thing. I shared the wealth. Yes, I made shmoo cake, and ice cream, and all sorts of tasty treats, but I ate just enough. I no longer ate to be stuffed. I ate to enjoy. And I walked. OK I did a few abdominal stretches. But I wasn’t doing a 2 hour workout every day. I didn’t become one of those people.

So at the beginning of this year, 2014, which was last week, I made myself a couple of, well, more promises than resolutions. The first was to never go back to the size I was, or the poor health that I was in 12 months ago. The second was to try new things.

So it seems only fitting, that with this, the first Canadian Food Experience blog of 2014, that I should carry these resolutions over to here. Am I going to extol the virtues of a fat-free food life? Oh goodness no! You’ve got the wrong blog for that. But what I will say is that I am going to look for other Canadian Food experiences that vastly differ from maple-drenched beaver tails. As I’ve discovered reading many of the other Canadian Food Experience blog entries, there is a whole world of fresh, exciting, flavourful and yes, healthy, Canadian food out there. So I am going to try to make some new recipes that are uniquely Canadian, or, at the very least, are from our bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Now this is kind of difficult to do in winter, but we do have greenhouses. We still have apples in storage from the fall harvest. And we have our bounty of winter vegetables, like rutabagas, squashes, beets, kale, cabbages…there’s so much we can do! And of course, we have the lovely flash-frozen vegetables and fruits and meats and fish available to us.

I don’t really have a recipe this month, because it’s only the seventh day in, and I’m still finishing the leftovers from Christmas and New Year’s, along with just having made a Galette des Rois for Twelfth Night/Epiphany.

If you want to try something new, you could make up a winter salad using local winter greens, such as kale, mixed with roasted local root vegetables, some local soft-ripened cheeses – most goat cheese in Canadian grocery stores is made with Canadian goats’ milk – some dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, tossed together with a vinaigrette made with Framboise, the wine that made Southbrook farms famous, and some  pumpkinseed oil.

There – I just tried something new. I tried to think of a recipe off the top of my head that would be completely local that I had never made before in my kitchen. Now, I’m off to try it!

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