Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Canada Vanada - Food-oh-lick!

 "As mentioned in my first post under the Canada Vanada series, that I am determined to be personally useful now. The best I could think of to start with is Food. Back in India, I had a wish list of food items, I wanted to eat or inhibit in my diet but couldn't do for various reasons (I shall talk about the same later in the post).

I have experimented with the available superstore food items in Canada which I think, am habituated to now. Most of them were available in India but I didn't try then and the ones I think were not, if otherwise should have made my life in kitchen much easier.

Lets start with my must-haves in the kitchen or refrigerator -

1. Yogurt

I have always been a big fan of yogurt. More because of my Punjabi genes, I end up using yogurt in all of my recipes or mixing it to save an unpalatable dish. Difference being, in India I used to have full fat home made curd and now I have guilt free options with zero fat or probiotic or protein laden greek curd varieties. Yogurt tops my list as I almost have 500 gms on daily basis with cereals or just like that :)

2. Quinoa

This super grain was introduced to me from a celebrity diet overview published in 'Prevention'. I grabbed the copy for the coverage on losing post-baby weight acknowledged by the gorgeous Shilpa Shetty. I searched for the grain in Hyderabad just to be disappointed by the price of it (somewhere around Rs.600/Kg) :O

Ever since, I had the wish of inhibiting the grain in my diet which got fulfilled in Canada. I wouldn't say its not pricey here but proportionately affordable as the grain comes from North America (not sure). Quinoa is super light, high in protein and an excellent substitute for rice. It helps in weight loss and also good for the overall health. I prepare this by boiling on medium for 15 minutes with spinach.
Loving it and am surely going to miss it back in India.

3. Berries

I remember how I hated fruits and rarely had any. The only compensation for fruits was the lemon water which I take as the first thing in morning. Though, I bought loads of fruits for my daughter especially strawberries and apples. But, berries were too tart that I wondered how she finished off the pack.

Now, I would like to mention Canada is the best in terms of variety of fruits especially berries. I get all the fruits suffixed with berries aka strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries etc. The taste is awesome and has better shelf life. I am not sure how healthy is it for they are not the organic varieties, but whatever I am having Vitamin C and loads of fibre.

4. Meat

I am not shy to admit, I was born carnivorous :) But, time and availability restricted me to have non-veg only on weekends. More because, it took at least an hour to cook the meat and it required a lot of effort with spices and mandatory marinating to mark it to the level for our choosy palates. The American recipes always made me wonder as they were labelled 'quick' and were mostly non-vegetarian.

The secret unveiled - its the quality. The meat here is fleshy, soft and chubby ;) and it takes not more than 20 minutes or even lesser,if marinated in lemon juice, to cook fully. I have seen the difference as I have tried making whole roast in India and should admit the poor chicken was suffering from malnutrition :D

I cook meat from Saturday through Wednesday- easy way for daily protein requirement and its yummy delight of course!! What more - its wine and chicken for weekend parties and quinoa for weekdays for that extra protein :)

5. Tortillas

Frankly, this Italian 'Roti' (flatbread) is an excuse for not making indian flatbread. I find it hectic and messy for the number of equipments required to name a few.. rolling pin, rolling surface, flat spatula, skillet, oil, flour, water etc etc phew!

So, tortillas are a big help in lunch or dinner for me and my husband and my daughter likes it seasoned and baked :)

6. Bakery items

I was a baking freak with my new microwave oven in India but not here. I realised the effort and the expense put in to bake a cake was way more than the price of a big muffin pack in Canada ($1). I gave up on baking after the first stove oven disaster and have muffins and breads in my grocery list.

Moreover to acknowledge the variety of breads available, I am a big fan of sandwiches now - tomato, cucumber, chicken, name it!

7. Cereals

I always wanted to have cereals in the breakfast; first, they are convenient; second, they are wholesome and non-oily. I tried many times but in vain, I couldn't have more than a couple of spoons that too gulping with water. I found the root cause, its because I don't like it with milk as I have always been a yogurt fan. I mix it with my low fat yogurt - top it with lots of berries and viola!!!

I am loving the guilt free breakfast :)

8. Crackers

Snacks has always been an integral part of my kitchen shelf, fridge top, night stands :D Courtesy- My husband. The difference being we have some good healthier options like muti- or whole- grain varieties which are baked and can be relished with some low fat dips :D

With this I would like to mention about the commendable low fat options in dips and spreads apart from tartar dip and high fat mayo which we had in India. None of the dips gift me a more than 40 calories per am all up for the tea sandwiches and a few friendly crackers with guests :)

9. Frozen foods

You can't escape frozen vegetables in America especially if you have a baby and a super busy husband waiting for his lunch box. I stock my freezer with frozen mixed vegetables to mention, frozen spinach cubes and carrot-corn. I just have to defrost in running hot water, stir fry and voila!

I am going to miss this way back for sure :'(

10. Canadian Lager Beer

Sushhh!! I am a pun(fun)jabi girl who doesn't mind having few cheers with friends occasionally.
I have tried a variety of beers to end up liking Carlsberg 'only'. Congrats! I have found a big brother in Canada its a Molson Coors Canadian lager beer. I bet you will love it chilled on a hot summer day. My two cents for this one - you can have it staple if you are a beer lover!

11. Multivitamins

This one is an odd, I found the multi vitamins to be abundantly over the counter item in west. More because of the weather conditions, where you don't get much sun. Despite, I like the fact that health and food association in Canada has the guidelines for every food item manufactured for humans. It will have added Vitamins to compensate the natural deficiencies. I have started taking multivitamins as a precaution for my age and the place.

12. Canned Beans

Canned beans is the result of the failure to find cheap kidney beans :P I was looking for the Indian kidney beans to find them to be too expensive around $5 for half kilo and then I noticed the cans for 85 cents - advantage being it saves energy required to pre-cook the beans in pressure cooker. My 2 cents for this product too!

Disclaimer 1 - the list is totally out of my convenience and doesn't consider the health quotient. Considering the fact, canned , processed foods and alcohol are unhealthy options - I am neither recommending nor promoting any of the above.

Disclaimer 2 - The post doesn't indicate lack of resources in India, its more about how accessible they are! To mention, there are hundreds of things in India which are untraceable in west. So, proud to be an Indian :)

Keep watching the space for more on what I found different or presumptuous in Canada...


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