Having Fun Cooking

Mediterranean diet pyramid

Mediterranean diet food pyramid

One of the things that I always like to do to relax after a long trip is to get into the kitchen and cook. Replenishing supplies like my breakfast granola and eggplant dip (baba Ghannouj) which have become staples for our Mediterranean style diet are always fun. I have posted the granola recipe before, but thought that some of you may would appreciate this very healthy version of Baba Ghannouj too. I took my original recipe and added the pepper which I think gives it a richer flavour and the yoghurt adds a nice tang. If you like it hot at a 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder too. It makes a great lunch spread or addition to a Middle Eastern meal.

1 medium sized eggplant

1 red pepper (capsicum)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup taheen, (sesame paste)

1/2 cup yoghurt (Greek style preferable)

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

2 spring onions finely chopped

2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

Wash and dry eggplant and pepper. Prick eggplant with fork in 3 -4 place. Place eggplant and pepper on a baking sheet and broil (grill) 4 inches away from heat, turning them on all sides until the skin is charred. 20- 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel off skin, cut off stem and deseed pepper. Chop eggplant and pepper finely by hand and mash eggplant pulp or blend garlic, pepper and eggplant in a blender until smooth. Combine lemon juice, yoghurt, and salt. Add to eggplant mix. Blend in taheen, mix well. Add spring onions and parsley. Place on a serving plate and drizzle oil over it.



Fake Blueberries in Our Cereal – Try My Homemade Granola instead

Have you ever chosen a breakfast cereal or bagel because it says it has blueberries in it?  I know I have.  And now I find out that those were probably not blueberries at all according to investigative journalist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.

The blueberries found in blueberry bagels, cereals, breads and muffins are REAL blueberries right? Wrong! Award-winning investigative journalist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, exposes the deceptive chemical ingredients and dishonest marketing of “blueberry” products from big-name food and cereal companies. The blueberries, it turns out, are made from artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars.

See the video here

I always read labels to see what is in my food – call it obsession from my medical background if you like but I must confess I never thought to question the supposed fruit in what i eat.  Sounds like another great reason to make home made granola rather than buying packaged cereal.  So if you want to give it a go here is my recipe


12 cups Rolled Oats

2 cups Wheat Flakes (I like Khorasan wheat)

2 cups Barley Flakes

2 cups Wheatgerm

3 cups Wheat Bran

1 cup golden flax meal

2 cups oat bran

1 cup dried Cranberries

1 cup Dried apricots, Chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup each Pumpkin Seeds & sunflower seeds

1 – 2 cup almonds, chopped

1 – 2 cup pecans, chopped

1 1/2 cup Apple Sauce

1 – 2 cups Honey


1. I started making granola many years ago because I dsicovered the ones I found in the stores were far too sweet for me.  Over the years I have reduced the fat by eliminating the oil, added a wider variety of grains and generally made the granola more healthy.  You can use any types of grain that you like to give it a flavour that you like.  This is our main breakfast over the summer months.

2. Mix all dry ingredients except fruit in a large bowl.  Heat apple sauce & honey together, add to dry ingredients and mix (with your hands is best) separating any lumps in mixture.  Cook at 350℉ turning every 15 minutes until brown.  Leave in oven until oven is cool. Add dried fruit.

Obesity Rate in US Higher than AIDS Rate in Africa

I am sitting here waiting for my red peppers to get nice and black under the broiler and thought that I would do a little browsing on healthy eating as a follow up to the article I wrote a couple of days ago on What Makes Us Fat?.

I have known for a long time that obesity rates are increasing.  Worldwide today, 10% of men and 14% of women are obese – compared to 5% of men and 8% of women in the 1980s. But in the U.S., 32% of men and 35% of women are obese – compared with 15% for both sexes during the 80s.   So I should not have been surprised to come across this article:

It’s no secret that Americans have an obesity problem, but since we’re awfully skilled at looking away from the scale and towards our next drive thru, it can’t hurt to take a moment to check in with the numbers: According to an annual report from the Trust for America’s Healthadult obesity rates have gone up in 16 states between 2008 and 2010 (and gone down in none). Which puts over two-thirds of U.S. states at obesity rates of over 25 percent, while only one state — Colorado — has a rate lower than 20 percent.

You could roll your eyes and tell me you’ve heard it before; you could question all these studies’ definitions of “obese.” But if I told you that 25% of the population had AIDS, you’d be frantic. Everyone would freak out. The news would make front-page headlines. We’d be raising funds to resolve an epidemic; in fact, that’s exactly the reaction that the world’s highest AIDS rates, which hover around six percent in Sub-Saharan Africa according to the most recent report from UNAIDS, have gotten from the media and world organizations.  read the entire article

And it is true – why aren’t we frantic about the obesity epidemic in our society – not just in the US but throughout much of the Western world?  And of course it doesn’t help that gaining or losing weight to play a role has become fair gain for Hollywood Stars as these articles show:

Ten Hollywood Celebrities who Gained Major Weight for a Movie Role 

Ten Celebrities Who Lost Serious Weight for a Movie Role

It also doesn’t help that some people are trying to convince us that what you weigh doesn’t really matter.  Evidently body-acceptance advocates are picketing NBC’s reality hit The Biggest Loser. “Real health doesn’t come from conforming to society’s standards of size and shape,” says Connie Sobczak of The Body Positive, a Berkeley, California nonprofit, which, along with the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, is fighting for the rights of the overweight.

From my perspective acceptance is not the problem, bad health is.  Obesity adds to the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and the risk of coronary artery disease.  I am so glad that Michelle Obama has taken on obesity awareness as a personal crusade,with the Lets Move movement.  She has even been seen jumping rope and hula hooping in public to promote healthy exercise.

If the current economic recession can spark a revolution in home gardening and local food production why can’t it also result in more healthy eating and less obesity?  What do you think?

A Food Manifesto for the Future

I just came across this interesting article in the New York Times that I wanted to share – certainly made me think

For decades, Americans believed that we had the world’s healthiest and safest diet. We worried little about this diet’s effect on the environment or on the lives of the animals (or even the workers) it relies upon. Nor did we worry about its ability to endure — that is, its sustainability.

That didn’t mean all was well. And we’ve come to recognize that our diet is unhealthful and unsafe. Many food production workers labor in difficult, even deplorable, conditions, and animals are produced as if they were widgets. It would be hard to devise a more wasteful, damaging, unsustainable system. read the entire article