How I Got My Husband to Finally Try Lentils

You can win a fancy date night too!

How I Got My Husband to Finally Try Lentils

Although I'm not a vegetarian, I would happily choose a vegetarian restaurant over a steak house if given the choice. My husband—not so much. He compares beans, lentils, and tofu to cardboard and if ever forced into eating it, will beeline it for the closest burger joint afterwards to "fill the gap" and perhaps restore his "meat-eating manliness." After countless attempts to get my hubby to open his mind to eating vegetarian once in a while, I gave up and saved my vegetarian dates for my girlfriends.

Until the other night...

As busy new parents, we rarely get the chance to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner out. Well, thanks to Love Your Lentils, we got the chance to dine at the amazing River Cafe a few days ago. I'm telling you, this was unlike any dining experience I've ever had. We had been there only once before, on our 3rd wedding anniversary, and it was just as amazing this time as it was then. This beautiful restaurant is located along the Bow River in Calgary, on Prince's Island Park.

It is like no other—it's simply fabulous in every way. The service was beyond amazing and the food was to DIE for. Especially the dish that I chose.

As fully expected, my husband chose a red meat dish. I, on the other hand, chose the Wood Grilled Ocean Wise Albacore Tuna, Sprouted Lentil and Wild Ramp Fritter with Smoked Onion Puree and Fresh Dill Camelina Oil prepared by River Cafe's amazing Chef Andrew Winfield. This dish is among several lentil dishes prepared at fine restaurants across Canada, all competing in the Love Your Lentils competition.

If you go to the Love Your Lentils site, you can vote for any of these lentil dishes. When you do, you are entered to win an amazing trip to Prince Edward Island with Chef Michael Smith. But you only have a few more days to enter! The contest ends on June 4.

As I gazed at the masterpiece that was placed in front of me, I noticed that Jon, my lentil-loathing husband (who, for the record, had never even tasted lentils), was also admiring my meal. Huh. Interesting. I could tell that he wanted to try it, but I didn't push it. We clinked forks (a tradition we started way back when we were dating) and dug in.

It was delicious to say the least—the lentil fritter paired beautifully with the Albacore Tuna. I eventually did let my husband try a bite and he LOVED it. He couldn't believe that he was eating lentils. Cheers to you, Andrew Windfield, for converting my anti-vegetarian hubby into an open-minded and perhaps healthier eater! 

And might I add, we (ahem) thoroughly enjoyed our culinary experience!


Why should you eat lentils?

Some of the best lentils are grown right here in Canada! These little budget-friendly 'pulses' (the edible part of a legume) are super easy to cook and extremely nutritious. I use split lentils (the ones that you can easily find in the grocery store) for purees, dips, and veggie burgers at home (hint: they are toddler and kid-friendly too!) Lentils are high in protein, making them a great meat alternative. They are also rich in fibre, potassium, folate and iron. This is why the Nutritionist (and Mom) in me LOVES lentils. 

Something that I didn't know about lentils is that they are a nitrogen-fixing crop, meaning they replace nitrogen in the soil that they are grown in, making them environmentally friendly! 

Now here comes the best part...


YMC and Canadian Lentils are giving you a chance to win a $150 gift certificate to your choice of restaurants participating in Love Your Lentils!

Here is a list of the participating restaurants. Click on each restaurant for a peek at their featured lentil dish:

Diva at the Met - Vancouver, BC
Herons at the Fairmont Vancouver - Vancouver, BC
Fraiche - West Vancouver, BC
Locals - Courtenay, BC
Waterfront Wines - Kelowna, BC
CharCut - Calgary, AB
River Café - Calgary, AB
Rouge - Calgary, AB
Boxwood - Calgary, AB
Calories - Saskatoon, SK
Velvet Glove, Fairmont Lombard Hotel - Winnipeg, MB
West - Toronto, ON
FRANK Restaurant at the Art Gallery of Ontario - Toronto, ON
Bannock - Toronto, ON
TOCA by Tom Brodi - Toronto, ON
The Stone Road Grille - Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar - Ottawa, ON
Les Fougères - Chelsea, QC
DNA - Montreal, QC
St. John Ale House - Saint John, NB
Chives Canadian Bistro - Halifax, NS
Tempest Restaurant - Wolfville, NS
Sims Corner Steakhouse - Charlottetown, PEI
Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland - St John's NFLD
Bacalao - St. John's, NFLD

Just leave a comment below telling me which restaurant you want to go to and why! Yes, it's THAT easy.

You have until June 14, 2012 and be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win.

Good luck!!


Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until June 14, 2012. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using

20 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning This Summer

Enjoy BBQs and picnics without getting sick

20 Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning This Summer

It’s Barbeque and picnic season! It’s a great time to enjoy delicious food and the outdoors with your family. However, you may also be in the company of some unwanted guests—bacteria and bacterial toxins that grow on your food can cause food poisoning, something that often gets passed off as the stomach flu. Did you know that about 11-13 million cases of food-borne illness occur each year in Canada? This is scary. These tips will help to protect you and your family from food-borne illness this summer. 

Keep it clean

  • Wash hands (for 20 seconds), utensils and cooking surfaces with soap and hot water before and after you handle food (especially meat or poultry).
  • Use paper towels to wipe counters or change dishcloths often to avoid the spread of bacteria. Avoid using sponges to clean surfaces since they're harder to keep clean.
  • Wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards can be washed in a dishwasher. Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop deep grooves, replace them. Wooden cutting boards are more likely to become contaminated as there are more grooves and are harder to clean.
  • Wash fresh vegetables and fruit with cool running water to remove dirt and residue. Before cutting, scrub fruits and vegetables that have firm surfaces or rinds such as carrots, oranges, melons and potatoes. And be sure to cut away damaged or bruised areas on produce - bacteria love these places.
  • Precut or pre-washed produce sold in sealed bags or in bulk should be washed before using.

Watch for cross-contamination

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats and vegetables. Never put cooked food on a dish that previously held raw food.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other foods in the refrigerator. Store in plastic bags or sealed containers on the lowest rack in the fridge to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods.
  • Do not pour sauce that's been used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood onto cooked foods. Boil leftover marinade for at least one minute, prepare extra for basting cooked food or use another sauce that has not come into contact with the raw food.  

Cook it right

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Prepare foods quickly, cook them thoroughly and serve soon after cooking. Don't let foods linger at temperatures where bacteria can multiply [4°C to 60°C].
  • Use a digital or instant red meat thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to a safe temperature (see chart below). Leave the thermometer in for at least 30 seconds, then take the temperature from the thickest part of meat, away from any bones.


Safe Temperatures

Ground meat: 

Beef, pork, veal    71ºC (160ºF)

Chicken, turkey    80ºC (176ºF)

Fresh beef
Rare    63ºC (145ºF)
Medium    71ºC (160ºF)
Well done    77ºC (170ºF)
Rolled beef roasts or steaks    71ºC (160ºF)

Fresh Pork
Pork chops    71ºC (160ºF)
Roasts    71ºC (160ºF)
Fresh cured ham    71ºC (160ºF)
Cooked ham (to reheat)    60ºC (140ºF)

Chicken, turkey - whole, stuffed    82ºC (180ºF)
Chicken - whole, unstuffed    82ºC (180ºF)
Turkey - whole, unstuffed    77ºC (170ºF)
Chicken, turkey - pieces    77ºC (170ºF)

Reheated    74ºC (165ºF)

Safely Chill Your Food

  • Thaw foods in the refrigerator or in cold water. Use the defrost button on the microwave oven if you plan to cook the food immediately after thawing.
  • Refrigerate or freeze prepared food and leftovers within two hours. When you cook ahead of time, divide large portions of hot food into small, shallow containers to ensure safe, rapid cooling. If you don’t think that you will be able to eat the leftovers within a couple of days, freeze them.
  • To keep foods safe in the fridge or freezer, make sure your fridge is set at 4°C (40°F) or colder and the freezer at -18°C (0°F).
  • Don't overstuff your fridge. Cold air needs to circulate above and beneath food to keep it properly chilled.
  • In hot weather (32°C or 90°F) don't leave foods sitting out for more than one hour. For temperatures that aren't quite as hot, don't keep foods out for longer than two hours. If you are unsure, throw it out.

Picnic Safely

  • Pack foods in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Pack foods first that you think you will use last. Take two coolers - one for cold drinks and another for perishable foods so that warm air won't get into the perishables every time someone reaches for a drink.
  • Transport the cooler in the back seat of an air-conditioned car, not the hot trunk.
  • At the picnic or campsite, place the cooler under the shade of a tree of keep it under a blanket or tarp- make sure it’s out of the sun.
  • Bring hand soap and water to wash your hands before preparing foods and eating. If soap and water aren't available, pack disposable wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Drink bottled water or tap water from a safe source. Try not to drink water from lakes or streams even if the water looks clean. If necessary, buy water purification tablets or water filters at stores that sell camping gear and outdoor sporting goods to purify lake or stream water prior to drinking it. 

Three Easy Supper Ideas For The Time-Crunched Mom

Try these fun meal ideas to get out of your supper slump

Three Easy Supper Ideas For The Time-Crunched Mom

What I hear (and what I find myself) is that supper is the most challenging meal of the day. By. Far.

By 5pm, your kids are hungry, you're exhausted, and the overwhelm of creating a healthy AND tasty supper is setting in. Fear not! Supper doesn't have to be gourmet or complicated to be healthy and yummy. Here are three ways to throw together an easy and nutritious supper!

The "Breakfast-Supper"

One of my favorite suppers is breakfast!
  • French toast with greek yogurt and berries.
  • Whole wheat pancakes with yogurt or cottage cheese, cut-up melon and a drizzle of maple syrup.
  • A veggie omelet on whole grain toast with fresh salsa and grated cheese.
  • A fruit smoothie with a piece of whole grain toast and natural peanut butter.
  • Hot oatmeal with dried fruit, nuts and seeds, milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
  • Egg-in-the-hole! Take a half of a whole grain bagel or a piece of whole grain toast (cut a small hole in the centre). Spray cooking spray in a shallow pan on medium heat. Place the bread or bagel in the pan and crack an egg in the middle. When lightly browned, turn once. Add fresh salsa or bruschetta and serve with raw veggies and dip or a piece of fruit. 


The "Throw-it-Together-in-5-10-Minutes Supper"

These come in handy when you and your family are hungry and don't have a lot of time.
  • Tuna Tomato Melt: Top multigrain bread with light-flaked canned tuna, tomato slices and cheese. Cook under the broiler in the oven or in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes. Serve with a tossed green salad
  • Mexican Tortilla Wrap: Top a whole grain tortilla with refried beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese and salsa. Wrap and grill on a Panini press or lightly fry on stove-top. 
  • Turkey tacos: Cook ground turkey and add low-sodium taco seasoning. Serve with chopped tomatoes, cheese, lettuce, low fat sour cream on a hard or soft taco shell.
  • Grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches: Add tomato slices to your grilled cheese and serve with fresh carrots and snap peas or low-sodium vegetable soup.  
  • Pita Pizzas: Top a whole wheat pita with tomato sauce, leftover fresh meat or nitrate free deli meat, your favorite veggies, and cheese. Let your kids build their own!

The Quick "Leftover, But New Supper"

Have leftovers but don't want the exact same meal? Try these:
  • A stir-fry wrap: Leftover stir-fried veggies and meat wrapped in a tortilla.
  • Taco Salad: Taco fixings (lean ground beef, bison, chicken, turkey or veggie ground meat), tomatoes, light sour cream, grated cheese and salsa on a bed of romaine lettuce or spinach.
  • Leftover Panini's: Take any leftover lean meat, add veggies like bell peppers, red onion, spinach and zucchini (if you have time, grill veggies on Panini grill first for a minute or two or sauté them). Then add your favorite cheese. Use whole grain Panini bread or regular whole grain bread with and place in a Panini press.  Serve with raw veggies or a salad.
  • Pasta Salad: Take leftover pasta (preferably corkscrew, penne or macaroni), add 1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed, raw or cooked veggies of choice (carrots, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli etc.), olives and/or capers, feta cheese. Toss in your favourite vinaigrette salad dressing (mine is a Greek-style vinaigrette). Refrigerate leftovers. Even better the second day!
These supper ideas are nice to have up your sleeve if you aren't able to prepare a gourmet meal. They're easy,  yummy, kid-friendly and Nutritionist-approved. You can use these ideas for lunches and breakfasts as well!
Give this a try:
On the weekend, plan your suppers for the week. Get your whole family involved. Kids are more likely to eat what is served at a meal if they had some input or if they helped prepare it. Once you know what you're going to have, make a grocery list. This way, you're not buying items that you don't need and you won't forget the ones that you do need!