September 26th, 2017

A Beginners Guide to Canning and Preserving

Fall is here! But don’t worry, it’s not all rain and cold weather. Fall is a beautiful season of bounty, and you can make the most of that bounty by taking up your new favourite hobby: canning. That beautiful jam you like? You can make it. Dill pickles? You can make those too. Those cans of tomatoes you buy every other week? Yep, you got it! All you need is a bit of equipment and a bit of know-how. London Drugs has got you covered on both counts.

Woman In Kitchen Listing Ingredients In Vegetable Preserves

Canning is really just a way of preserving food. Water bath canning is the easiest way to start: you fill glass jars with the stuff you want to preserve (jams, jellies, pickles, etc.) and boil them in hot water. This kills any bacteria present, removes air from the jar, and seals it to prevent any more bacteria from getting in. Water bath canning only works for high-acid foods like fruit, tomatoes, and pickled things.

If you want to get really fancy and preserve your perfect pumpkin pie filling, you’ll need to upgrade to a pressure canner. But the basic process is to sterilize your jars in boiling water, make your preserves, put those preserves in the jars, put on the lids, and throw them back in boiling water. Easy peasy, right?

So where do you begin? First, you need some equipment:

  • Large stockpot, deep enough to completely cover your jars
  • Canning jars
  • Canning lids (these will come with jars if you buy a new set!)
  • Jar lifter
  • Lid lifter
  • Funnel

We’ve got a complete canning kit that includes the jar lifter, lid lifter, and funnel, as well as 250ml jars, 500ml jars, and even 1L jars for things like pickles and whole tomatoes. If you’re making jam or jelly, you’ll also need pectin.

Once you’ve acquired the equipment, you need to decide what you want to can! In early fall we still have stone fruit like peaches and plums, and lots of tomatoes. Later in the season, root vegetables like carrots and beets can make some excellent pickles. And apples, of course!

Pickled cucumbers, homemade preserved on wooden table

If you’ve got a well stocked grocery store that brings in produce from further afield, you can can small batches with basically any type of fruit. We’ve got recipes for strawberry balsamic jam and sour cherry jelly on the blog from earlier this summer. (What’s the difference between jam and jelly, you ask? Jam is made from crushed fruit while jelly is made from fruit juice! The more you know.)

Next, as a beginner, follow a recipe!

Canning isn’t difficult, but when mistakes are made they can range from something minor like a jam that doesn’t set to something dangerous like food that is unsafe to eat. You may balk at the amount of sugar in some of these recipes, but it’s integral to getting the jelly or jam to set properly, and it helps prevent spoilage.

Boiling time will vary depending on what altitude you’re at. You also can’t reuse the flat part of the two part lid for canning jars; you can reuse the ring, but you need a new lid each time you can. And don’t forget to sterilize your jars before filling them with your preserves!

Bell pepper preserves - London Drugs Blog

There are a ton of great websites you can go to for more information and recipes, including the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Food in Jars, and Punk Domestics. Companies that make canning supplies like Bernardin and Ball are also fantastic resources.

Here are a few of our favourite fall recipes. Go ahead and get canning! You can can!



October 6th, 2016

8 Clever Hacks for Your Kitchen Appliances

There’s no time like the present to dust off that waffle iron you received as a wedding gift two years ago. The same applies to the slow cooker only brought out for potlucks, and the popcorn machine you can’t reach at the back of the cupboard. When it comes to kitchen appliances, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Coffee makers and dishwashers are capable of doing much more than what it claims on their packaging. The following hacks take everyday kitchen appliances (and a few kitchen tools!) from one-dimensional to multi-faceted.

Cheese Grater

kitchen cooking hacks

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to butter a fluffy piece of toast with a cold slab of butter. Not only can a cheese grater solve all your butter problems, but it can also double as a vegetable slicer, spice grinder, and chocolate shaver. Find more grater hacks here.

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September 1st, 2016

Health benefits of stone-ground tea

DomoTea_2016_Blog

 

matchaDomo stone-ground matcha tea is made with authentic matcha and all-natural vanilla, with no cholesterol and no saturated or trans fats.

Everyone knows about the health benefits of drinking Japanese green tea. But not everyone realizes that matcha tea has an even higher concentration of healthy compounds than regular green tea. Matcha not only tastes great – it’s one of the healthiest drinks you can enjoy.

This stuff is good for you
Did you know that consumption of antioxidant-rich foods reduces damage to cells and biochemicals, and can help fend off disease and aging? Matcha contains as much as 70 times the antioxidants of orange juice, and up to 200 times that of regular green tea. Researchers are also finding that the antioxidants in green tea may help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and control blood pressure. In addition, regular matcha drinkers enjoy a metabolic rate increase of 35-40%. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ll know that’s a good thing!

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March 3rd, 2016

LD Picks: How Your Slow Cooker Can Change Your Life

Did you know that you have a secret weapon in your kitchen? One thing that will help you make delicious dinners, tasty breakfasts, feasts for game day and impressive treats for your in-laws? You do – it’s called a slow cooker. Here’s our guide to getting that humble appliance out on the counter and making delicious meals for you and your family.

Get Started

how a slow cooker will change your life

Photo: jamieoliver.com

If said slow cooker is still in the box that your mother-in-law dropped it off in, you might need a primer. Slow cookers are super-easy to use, but there are a few things to remember. First of all, slow cooking is…slow. Yes, you can turn the heat up to high and cut the cooking time to four hours or so, but that’s often not the best strategy. Plan ahead! Remember also that if you’re cooking with kidney beans or other dry beans that contain high levels of phytohaemagglutinin, a toxin that can cause powerful stomach cramps and nausea, that you need to prepare the beans properly by boiling. A slow cooker will not get hot enough to neutralize the toxin.

Almost everything that will come out of a well-planned slow cooker will be delicious, but there are some basic rules to follow. Brown meat prior to adding to the pot to get a lovely caramelized crust. Don’t peek once things are underway – you’ll only lengthen the cooking time. Don’t add too much liquid. The slow cooker lid will prevent evaporation, so you only need a touch. Also, skip the prime rib and head straight for the chuck; the prime rib won’t stand up well to the long, slow heat.

One last tip – coat the inside of the slow cooker with a small amount of vegetable oil before putting food in there. It makes clean-up a snap.

[More at Jamie Oliver]

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February 25th, 2016

The 12 Best and Worst Foods to Eat When You’re Sick

Cold and flu season is upon us again. Need help finding the foods and drinks that’ll speed your recovery and get you back on your feet? We take care of that.

* * *

The 5 Best Foods For Fighting a Cold

popsicles

Popsicles help you take in fluids—important—and help numb down a sore throat.

Doing battle with a cold means taking in plenty of fluids and as many phlegm-fighting foods as you can. Here are some of the best choices.

  1. Popsicles  The name of the game is hydration. While you’re usually better to eat your fruit than drink it, popsicles provide convenient relief  when you’re sore and congested. Buy the ones made from 100-percent whole fruit—or, better yet, make your own.
  2. Broth-based soups At Vancouver’s popular Solly’s Deli, chicken soup’s nom de guerre is “Jewish penicillin.” Small wonder: Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which thins mucus in the lungs. And hot broth fights throat inflammation and keeps nasal passages moist.
  3. Citrus fruits While vitamin C isn’t a magic bullet, it aids in reducing the length and strength of colds. An added benefit: lemons and limes, oranges and grapefruits contain flavonoids, which improve immune system function.
  4. Hot tea Take advantage of the natural anti-bacterial properties of tea. We’re fond of a green tea or hot water with  lemon—besides soothing the throat, they keep you hydrated when you’re down for the count.
  5. Spicy foods Hot foods can make our noses run and our eyes water, which is why they’re effective decongestants. Eating chili peppers, wasabi, and horseradish—not all at once!—can light a fire under the body’s natural clearing-out process.

* * *

The 3 Best Foods For a Stomach Flu

bananas

Bland and dense with nutrients, bananas are a boon to the sick.

  1. Bananas Sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea visit the stricken, and all deplete your stores of potassium. Bananas replace it. They’re easy to digest, and replenish lost electrolytes.
  2. Ginger Ginger is a great help in preventing and soothing nausea. Ginger tea or ginger ale—served flat to avoid bubble trouble (i.e., carbonation discomfort)—will keep you hydrated and on an even keel.
  3. Dry toast, crackers Plain, unsalted, or lightly salted crackers and toast are simple, bland foods that go easy on the stomach, promoting digestion and recovery when a flu has you in its grips.

* * *

The 4 Worst Foods for a Stomach Flu

pickled-jalapenos

Pickled jalapenos—yikes. Avoid the acid and spice until you’re feeling better..

  1. Acidic & spicy foods While spicy foods are great decongestants, they can be hard on the stomach. Same goes for fruit from the citrus family, which can irritate sensitive stomachs. See “bananas,” above.
  2. Sweet snacks Sugary foods can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation. Though it’s tempting to treat yourself when you’re feeling low, leave the milkshake or chocolate sundae until you’re feeling better.
  3. Fatty foods Don’t make your gut do double duty. Forgo the burgers and fries in favour of foods that are easier to digest, like simple carbohydrates and proteins.
  4. Dairy products Whether dairy causes greater congestion or simply mimics the sensation is open to debate. Perhaps, though, the point is moot. If the feeling thicker mucus bothers you, it can’t hurt to avoid milk products while you’re sick.

* * *



December 1st, 2015

20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Losing Weight

The idea here—supported by a new report from Switzerland— is that North Americans have been on the wrong diet for 50 years. We’ve been avoiding natural, healthy fats—such as those found in red meat, butter and eggs—to disastrous effect.

Though generally condemned, many natural fats found in food have positive impacts on your body, including increased energy, lower rates of diabetes, and weight loss. Read on to discover the full-fat foods that help you lose from the waist by adding to the plate.  Your diet will never be the same.

  1. Grass-Fed Butter An excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, grass-fed butter helps keep energy levels stable by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates and sugar.
  2. Heavy Cream in your Coffee Unlike milk, heavy cream is a healthy fat that keeps blood sugars stable, helping to maintain energy and brainpower. It also has the added effect of neutralizing any negative consequences of caffeine consumption, like the jitters.heavy cream
  3. Whole Milk Although whole milk technically has more calories than its skim counterparts, it is much more filling and may actually crank up your body’s calorie burning centers. In fact, studies have proven that those who drink whole milk are less likely to be obese than other milk drinkers.
  4. Bacon A paleo hit, grab a few slices of full fat pork bacon to up your energy. Packed with protein and heart healthy monounsaturated fats, real bacon can actually be better for you in the long run than its low-cal competitors.
  5. Salad Dressing Skip the raw veggies and add a little dip! Studies show eating a moderate amount of fat with your vegetables helps your body absorb important nutrients like lycopene and beta-carotene, which can help fight cancer and improve heart health.
  6. Avocado  A power food, avocados pack protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, and oleic acid, which stops you from feeling hungry. Be sure to limit yourself to a quarter or half of an avocado for proper portion control.
  7. Avocado Oil Good in any format, try avocado oil in your cooking to benefit from those same heart healthy monounsaturated fats!avocado
  8. 4% Yogurt  Loaded with protein, calcium, and probiotics, full fat yogurt is one of the best foods for health and weight loss. An added bonus, yogurts with higher fat content tend to have more protein and less sugar than their leaner versions!
  9. Regular Ice Cream  Besides having extreme levels of sugar, low fat ice creams can sometimes contain propylene glycol, better known as antifreeze. To avoid this toxic mess, choose a small bowl of regular ice cream to satisfy cravings in a natural way.Photo via Flickr user Austin Kirk
  10. Grass-Fed Beef  Grass-fed beef is proven to contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and less calories, making it the tastier, and healthier, steak dinner option.
  11. Regular Mayo Use a little bit of regular mayo to spice up your sandwiches and avoid the added sugars, vegetable oils, and artificial preservatives that get substituted into its low-fat alternatives.
  12. Natural Peanut Butter Natural peanut butter is heavy in healthy monosaturated fats, and tends to have lower sodium and sugar content than non-natural spreads. Stick to the natural, full fat jars to prevent trading good fats for bad sugars.
  13. Coconut The high levels of saturated fat in coconuts are mainly caused by lauric acid, a unique lipid that actually battles bacteria and lowers cholesterol. Studies have found that diets high in lauric acid can even help remove stubborn abdominal fat!
  14. Olive Oil Not only is olive oil rich in cancer fighting polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, but it also helps increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone responsible for breaking down body fat.olive-oil
  15. Whole Eggs Eggs are the number one source of Choline, a nutrient found in lean meats and greens, which helps fight the gene mechanism that stores fat around your liver. Eating full eggs, yolk and all, can thus keep you looking slim and trim, inside and out.
  16. Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate contains pure cocoa butter, which is a source of digestion slowing stearic acid. As a result, eating just a few ounces of dark chocolate before a meal can actually help reduce your caloric intake by up to 17%!
  17. Walnuts While saturated fats like those found in baking cause weight gain, polyunsaturated fats reduce fat storage and improve insulin metabolism. With 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat per one ounce serving, walnuts are one of the best natural sources of these healthy fats.
  18. Walnut Oil Besides the obvious benefits listed above, a diet filled with walnuts and walnut oil can also help the body respond better to stress and keep diastolic blood pressure down.
  19. Salmon Everyone knows that salmon is loaded with heart healthy omega-3s. But did you know that just two servings of salmon a week can get you the total amount of omega-3s recommended by the American Heart Association?Photo via Flickr user jh_tan84
  20. Tuna Tuna is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two fatty acids that are proven to regulate fat genes in the abdomen and keep fat cells from expanding. To lower your risks of ingesting mercury, go for smaller species of tuna like those found in light canned options, which are safe to eat throughout the week!

[More at Yahoo Health]



September 16th, 2015

9 Fantastic Gadgets That Will Ramp Up Your Health & Fitness

  1. Fitbit
Best Health Gadgets - Fitbit With its surge in popularity over the last year, there’s no avoiding the usefulness of the Fitbit. From the Zip, which tracks your steps, calories, and distance, to the Apple Watch-like Surge, there’s a Fitbit for everyone. The happy medium seems to be the slim and lightweight Flex, which is affordable and functional – it’s even got the sleep tracking capability.
  1. Fitbit Aria
Best Health Gadgets - Fitbit Aria Fitbit’s smart scale tracks your weight, body fat percentage, and BMI, and connects to your Fitbit data through the free Fitbit app for iOS and Android. The Aria is available in both black and white for the design-focused fitness buff.
  1. Taylor Smart Scale
Best Health Gadgets - Taylor Smart Scale The second option for a smart scale is the Taylor Smart Scale. It’s extremely accurate, and connects to your smartphone through Bluetooth to track your weight. It even allows you to set goals and track progress within the scale’s user interface. Or, you can connect the data with our next suggestion.
  1. My Fitness Pal
Best Health Gadgets - My Fitness Pal The app that tracks your eating habits and calorie intake also serves as an aggregator of data. It can sync with both your Fitbit and your Taylor Smart Scale to create a cohesive summary of your fitness goals and progress. Accessible from both your smartphone and your desktop computer, My Fitness Pal is easy-to-use and effective in helping you track data and get fit.
  1. Jabra Sport Plus Headphones
Best Health Gadgets - Jabras Earphones Once you step up your cardio (gotta put that Fitbit to work!), it might be worth upgrading those old Walkman headphones. The Jabra Sport Plus model is wireless, so there’s no concern about tangled cords. For tunes, you can listen to iTunes or Spotify through Bluetooth from your smartphone, or if you don’t feel like hauling any extra weight along, the headphones can connect to FM radio.
  1. Quitbit
Best Health Gadgets - Quitbit If you still haven’t been able to kick the habit, new technology will soon be available to help you out. The Quitbit lighter tracks your cigarettes to help you better understand your habit. The accompanying smartphone app allows you to view your smoking trends and cigarette spending, and lets you share with friends (in case peer pressure helps your efforts!). You can even limit your cigarettes by pre-setting your smoke times ­­– the Quitbit will only allow you to light up at the scheduled time.
  1. Smartmat
Best Health Gadgets - Smart mat The Smartmat is the world’s first intelligent yoga mat – or, it will be. Though the exciting new product isn’t available for purchase yet, it is in final stages. Funded through Indiegogo, the mat is intended to teach the user yoga. An accompanying app guides the user through yoga classes, and the responsive mat gives the user verbal instructions on how to improve their form. Namaste, technology.
  1. QardioArm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
Best Health Gadgets If you’re kicking up your cardio, it’s worth investing in a blood pressure monitor. The QardioArm is compact, easy to use, and dependable. Nothing should stop you from living life to its fullest.
  1. Netatmo Weather Station
Best Health Gadgets - Netatmo Weather Station The Netatmo allows you to view info about your home’s condition, right on your smartphone. It will tell you what to expect in terms of temperature, humidity, indoor air quality, noise pollution, and monitors CO2. When the air quality deteriorates it chooses the right time for you to ventilate your home or room. Plus, you can personalize the settings to keep you comfortable.


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