We wanted to know how Islanders celebrate the holidays with food. Quite frankly, the results made us hungry
Us foodies, we live for the next course. We anticipate the next great culinary creation that will have our taste buds singing with delight. Christmas is just around the corner and, well, for us hardcore types, it’s the Super Bowl of the food holidays.
Weeks (if not months) prior to the main event, many us can be found creating our Christmas dinner game plans, prepping our stomachs for the unending parade of treats and feasts that will inevitably leave us napping by the tree on Christmas Day. Yep, for a foodie, there’s nothing more festive than the sight of good food and lot’s of it!
Last month, we asked G! readers (and fellow foodies) via Facebook poll to tell us how they celebrate the holidays with food. What are they eating? When are they eating it? And do they have room at the table for us?
We were expecting to get some wild responses. We thought we’d find people who bucked tradition who, not unlike Ralphie and his family in ‘A Christmas Story’ opted for an unconventional meal out at a Chinese restaurant when things went awry in the kitchen, celebrated the season with something completely off the radar. In this technology driven era where we’re always looking for the next new and exciting piece of gadgetry, we thought all the foodies out there might be doing the same thing with Christmas dinner.
As it turns out, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Our G! Eats poll revealed that a big ‘ol traditional turkey dinner with all the fixins on December 25 reigns supreme for holiday eats. Sweets, sweets and more sweets came a distant second.
Apparently, mincemeat pies and dining out were not favoured by the masses, seeing as neither received a single vote.
We can’t say we disagree with the findings of this delicious, hunger-inducing poll. Whose stomach doesn’t growl in anticipation of the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce that will inevitably fill the dining room table? Fresh from the oven rolls, mustard pickles, homemade turkey gravy…are you drooling yet, because we sure are!
We couldn’t possibly give props to a traditional holiday feast without mentioning the grand finale, dessert. As stuffed as we always say we are after eating a great scoff of turkey, we somehow always find room for the piece (or multiple pieces) de resistance. In addition to the plum pudding, you’re guaranteed to find an array of pies, cakes, sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, and candy canes. Foodies can never pick just one sweet treat – variety is the spice of life. Be sure to load up the dessert plate with small portions of everything so no sweet goes ignored.
However you celebrate (or should we say, celebrEAT) the holidays, we hope you dine in the company of friends and family who share your love of all things edible and appreciate your tradition of wearing stretchy pants to the dinner table.
- G! Staff
We wanted to know how Islanders celebrate the holidays with food. Quite frankly, the results made us hungry Us foodies, we live for the next course. We anticipate the next great culinary creation that will have our taste buds singing with delight. Christmas is just around the corner and, well, for us hardcore types, it’s […]
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Ease into the busy holiday season with a little help from Zestycook
Christmas parties, family functions, holiday shopping, Christmas concerts…the holiday season can be pretty hectic, overwhelming and down right exhausting! In just a few short weeks, your social calendar will be so full you won’t have time to throw your own festive shindig. So, why not start early and avoid the hype? Not a bad idea, is it? Let me walk you through some simple tips to ease the pain that will make it a fun, stress-free event.
Zesty Pre-Party Planning Tips
Create a cooking plan: Start compiling a list of what you want to cook for your event in the order you want to serve it and write it down. Let this be your bible that will dictate your every move in preparation for the party.
Make a list, check it twice: Prior to hitting the grocery store, go through your cooking plan and break it down into categories of what you’ll need: food items, party prep supplies, perishables and non-perishables, etc. Organize accordingly and buy only what you need (presents don’t pay for themselves, you know!)
Cook ahead of time: Do whatever you can the day before or the day of the party to alleviate any timing concerns you might be having about making sure everything is prepared on time.
Keep cool: Stay calm! Rely on your cooking plan and newfound organization skills to help you execute this party in a low stress environment. Remember, parties are meant to be fun.
Keep the presentation simple: Let the food take centre stage. By using simple flowers or fresh herbs in a variety of ways you can make the serving dishes and plates very appealing.
Irish Soda Bread
Served warm, this number will make your guests smile, fill the room with the comforting scent of fresh homemade bread and make a great appetizer when paired with a variety of cheeses, homemade spreads, or some herbed butter.
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons of granulated white sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons of old fashioned rolled oats (optional)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk (or soured milk you can make yourself using vinegar and regular milk)
1. Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C) and place the rack in the centre of the oven. Line a baking sheet or cast iron skillet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, oats, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk.
3. Using yours hands, or a wooden spoon, mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until the dough is soft and moist.
4. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a 7-inch (18 cm) round that is about 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick.
5. Place the round on your prepared baking sheet and then, with a sharp knife, cut a 1/4-inch deep “X” across the top of the bread.
6. Bake for about 40 – 50 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean.
OK, let’s not kid ourselves here – this dessert is off the hook! It won’t make your waist smaller but it will make your smile a little larger and bring a little joy to your guests.
1 cup of butter
4 cups (1 lb) of nuts (I used chopped pecans, walnuts and almonds)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of water
1 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1. Mix the nuts with the cinnamon.
2. Lay two sheets of phyllo on the bottom of a buttered 9×13 pan – you may have to cut the phyllo in half to make it fit. Spread butter (I used melted) on the two sheets of phyllo and then top with two more. Repeat phyllo and butter until you have 6-8 sheets on the bottom.
3. Sprinkle the nut mixture on the phyllo then cover with two more sheets and spread butter. Repeat until you run out of nuts.
4. Top with 6-8 sheets of phyllo (again 2 sheets then butter repeat).
5. Cut into diamonds (or squares) before baking it.
6. Bake at 350 °F (177 °C) for 45 – 50 minutes until golden.
7. While the baklava is baking, prepare the syrup; boil the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the honey and vanilla and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour it on the pastry as soon as it comes at out of the oven.
Zesty Tip: Let it cool a bit before you try and eat it (This is literally the hardest part. You don’t want to cover this either as it will lose it’s crunch.)
For more recipes and tips on how to keep it simple in the kitchen, visit www.zestycook.com.
Ease into the busy holiday season with a little help from Zestycook Christmas parties, family functions, holiday shopping, Christmas concerts…the holiday season can be pretty hectic, overwhelming and down right exhausting! In just a few short weeks, your social calendar will be so full you won’t have time to throw your own festive shindig. So, […]
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The Myth and The Madness
Ryan Cairns CSEP-CPT dispels the myths of fitness and sets us straight on the path to looking (and feeling) good
Myth: You can’t escape the dreaded holiday weight gain – Part II
You survived Thanksgiving and Halloween – congratulations! But now you’re up against the most tempting holiday of them all – Christmas.
Who doesn’t love the holidays? You get to watch movies like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. You sing along to catchy festive tunes like “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey. However, this time of year can be brutal for weight gain.
As I mentioned in last month’s article, holiday weight gain is usually exaggerated. While the most anyone would realistically gain is between two to five pounds, the problem with gaining that small amount of holiday weight is that most people don’t lose it and it just keeps accumulating over the years. Average that over five years and you’ve easily put on ten to twenty-five pounds without even realizing it. Now that’s a very big deal!
The most common cause of holiday weight gain is the over consumption of high calorie foods that are readily available. It can feel like there are endless boxes of chocolates, tins of peanut butter balls, and lots and lots of booze everywhere you turn. Staff parties and multiple family dinners may bring on holiday cheer but they can also add unwanted inches around the waist.
Let’s face it, this isn’t your first Christmas and it certainly won’t be your last. You know what hasn’t worked for you in the past so maybe it’s time to try a new approach. If you love Santa Claus but don’t want to look like him, I’ve got a workout you can try that’s short on time but big on results. Consider this my early Christmas present to you!
HOLIDAY TABATA WORKOUT
Total time: 20 minutes
Items you’ll need: clock or stopwatch, enough space and a flat surface
Exercise 1: (a) Bodyweight squats (b) Jumping jacks
Exercise 2: (a) Plank (b) Running in place
Exercise 3: (a) Alternating lunges (b) Push-ups
Exercise 4: (a) Hip lifts (b) Mountain climbers
Here’s what you do:
Begin with Exercise 1, starting with (a) bodyweight squats for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest. Move onto (b) jumping jacks for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second rest.
Repeat Exercise 1 for a total of 8 sets (4 of each). Rest for one minute and move on to Exercise 2. Follow the same 20 seconds of activity, 10 seconds of rest circuit for the rest of the Exercises.
Each Exercise lasts about four minutes and entire workout should be 20 minutes total. Try doing this workout 3 to 4 times per week and help keep the Santa belly at bay.
Ryan Cairns CSEP-CPT
Back away from that delicious candy cane bark and get moving! For fitness tips, videos and more check out Ryan’s website www.sparkfitnessnow.com.
The Myth and The Madness Ryan Cairns CSEP-CPT dispels the myths of fitness and sets us straight on the path to looking (and feeling) good Myth: You can’t escape the dreaded holiday weight gain – Part II You survived Thanksgiving and Halloween – congratulations! But now you’re up against the […]
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