5 Reasons to Buy Bison and Why It May Be The Meat of The Future

5 Reasons to Buy Bison and Why It May Be The Meat of The Future

This post is sponsored by Noble Premium Bison. The opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own.

I first worked with Bison meat about twelve years ago at a small tapas-style restaurant in Halifax. We served it as a part of a trio of sliders, and I think I made Bison poutine as a special there too. At that time, I thought Bison was delicious but saw it as more of a novelty than a staple protein. Fast-forward four or five years, I am working in Montreal, and my chef has no interest in common ingredients. So, rather than serving beef, Bison became our go-to red meat. Not long after that, when I went to work in the Yukon, we served a Bison Short Rib that was to die for. What I realized from my experience with Bison in Montreal and the Yukon, was that it was not a novelty at all. Bison is a versatile, lean red meat, that just as easily fits on the dining table at home as it does on the menus of high-end restaurants.

The only problem I’ve had cooking Bison at home has been its availability. For a long time, it could only be bought through restaurant suppliers, or on occasion at specialty grocers. Luckily, it is now more widely available. You’ve probably seen it at your local Sobeys or Foodland. If you have seen at the store, you may have considered buying it, but you just weren’t sure. Well, today, I’m going to give you five reasons why you should buy it and why you will be happy that you did.

5. Lean Protein

The new Canadian Food Guide recommends Bison as a lean protein right up there with skinless chicken breast and wild game meats, and for a good reason. 100g of lean Bison has only 2.42g of fat compared to 8.09g of fat in the same amount of lean beef, and 9.66g of fat in the same amount of lean pork. In that same 100g of Bison, there is only 82mg of cholesterol compared to 86mg in the same amount of lean beef, pork and chicken. If keeping it lean and clean is your aim, Bison is one of the best choices that you can make.

Figures taken from The Canadian Bison Association Website.

4. Lot’s of the Good Stuff

On top of being lean and low in cholesterol, Bison is high in Iron (3.42mg per 100g lean meat compared to 2.99mg – beef, 1.1mg – pork, 0.6mg – chicken, and .34mg -salmon), vitamin B12, B6, Niacin, and Zinc. The high iron levels make Bison an excellent choice for both men and women suffering from anemia. In 2018 Thehealthy.com (Part of Reader’s Digest) listed Bison as one of the 13 Superfoods Every Healthy Woman Needs in Her Diet because women are more prone to anemia, and Bison offers a high iron, low-fat option to help combat this issue.

3. It’s Sustainable

Canadian Bison are sustainably produced and contribute to the growth and bio-diversity of the land rather than taking away from it. Because almost all of a Bison’s nutritional needs can be met by *grazing on wild perennial grasses that grow Naturally in Canada, there is no need to load up the soil with chemical fertilizers. These natural grasslands would otherwise be used for monoculture farming, such as grain or soybeans. Some monoculture farms have even been converted to more bio-diverse Bison grazing lands.

It takes **between four to sixteen hectares to raise a Bison cow and her baby, which is quite a bit of grazing land. However, the Bison lives on, eats, and fertilizes these vast tracts of grasslands. Compare that to other commercial farming practices that keep animals in small spaces and grow their feed on monoculture farms. These monoculture growing operations require large volumes of land and chemical fertilizers to sustain them. Of course, the feed must also be transported from the farm to the animals.

**One final point is that Bison are raised without growth stimulants or hormones and are not regularly fed antibiotics.

2. It is delicious

If you like meat, you will like Bison. People describe the flavour of Bison meat as similar to beef but richer and slightly sweet. However, because Bison is so lean, it is important not to overcook it. It’s best that Bison not be cooked any more than medium. Of course, if you are using ground Bison, this is not an issue.

Some people may be concerned that Bison will have a gamey flavour similar to venison, I’ve never found this to the case. In my experience, Bison tastes like the best quality beef I’ve ever had. I find that Bison meat is more dense, rich, flavorful, and filling than beef.

1. You Already Know What To Do With It

You may be thinking to yourself, “This all sounds great, but what do I do with it?”. That’s a good question. But here’s the thing, you already know what to do with it. Let me ask you something; Have you ever cooked beef? If you said yes, that is your answer. You can cook the same recipes you’ve always used; just use Bison as the protein. It’s that simple.

Conclusion – Bison, The Meat of The Future.

I’ve worked with Bison in restaurants for over a decade, I’ve served it at private dinners, I’ve cooked it at home, and I have always enjoyed it. One thing that has struck over all these years is that Bison should be more popular than it is, but I think it is about to be. I believe that in the coming years, as people search more and more for sustainable foods, and leaner proteins, Bison will continue to grow in popularity. There is a trend that is gaining momentum, and with good reason, to eat higher quality meat in smaller portions. Due to its caloric density, and undeniable quality, Bison, is the perfect meat for this future dietary norm.

If you have seen Bison at the grocery store, thought about it, but ultimately walked by it because you didn’t know what to do with it or how it would taste, I hope that I’ve given you a reason to take a second look. I hope that you try it because I am confident that when you do, you’ll be happy that you did.

Thank you as always for reading, and thank you to Noble Premium Bison for sponsoring this post. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the top right of the sidebar on this page, do it now so you never miss a post. And, remember to share this post because you will be helping me continue to grow the blog. Have a great day everyone!

Meal Prep 101 – Your how-to guide

Meal Prep 101 – Your how-to guide

It is that time of year again, parents are sending their little ones off to school. University kids are moving out on their own once again. And, summer vacations have all but come to an end. Getting back into the daily grind can be a bit hectic, and overwhelming. Things get lost and fall through the cracks as time seems to slip by ever quicker. Eating well should not be one of the things that get away from us.

Today, we are going to talk all about meal prep. We’ll look at how you can maximize the time you have to cook to prepare food for a few meals at once without getting overwhelmed. The same principles apply whether you are a college kid out on your own for the first time, a young couple making their way in this crazy world, or a parent of three. Let’s get to it.

Meal Prep 101

Why meal prep?

Picture this, you just got home from work it’s about 6 o’clock and you are exhausted. It was a rough day. Everything you did just seemed to be not enough. There seemed to be something in the air that was making everyone a little cranky. Once you were finally able to leave work you got stuck in traffic for an hour. Now that you’re home you are starving since you haven’t really eaten anything since noon. The last thing in the world you want to do is cook dinner so you pick up your phone and order take out. It’s the second time this week and it’s only Wednesday. While you’re waiting for the food to arrive you snack on a bag of chips as you sit and zone off into space watching tv or scrolling Instagram.

Maybe your story is a little different than that one. Maybe you had to run around picking your kids up from different after school activities. Maybe it’s 7 o’clock by the time you get home. You aren’t going to be cooking too much at this point. More than likely you stopped at the grocery store and bought a cooked chicken and a premade salad. Or, it’s pizza night again.

The truth is that we are all busy. It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are, there are always things going on and there is never enough time. But we shouldn’t sacrifice eating well. It is a really important part of a healthy life.

So, what can you do?

The short answer is to plan your meals around your busy schedule and do meal prep. But how do you actually do that?

The key to this really is planning. Take a bit of time, between 15 to 30 minutes and map out your meals for the next week. Looking at your schedule figure out at least two days that you will have time, 1-2 hours to cook. Plan out when the best time to go to the grocery store is. I recommend around 9 pm. There isn’t usually anyone there and you can zip in, get what you need and zip out. Then cook based on the plan you’ve made.

How to build a meal plan

Building a successful meal plan is like doing a puzzle. There should be no spaces left and you shouldn’t have any extra pieces left over at the end. Start with the edges just like doing a puzzle. In the case of meal planning, the edges would be the main ingredient. This would usually be the protein. Now, fill in the rest of the puzzle with vegetables, starches, and sauces.

Buy as few ingredients as you can while still maintaining a varied diet.

There are some ingredients that you really can’t buy in small quantities. Things like cabbage for example. So, if you plan on making a stew or soup with cabbage plan on making coleslaw and using what’s left in a stir-fry. Essentially, the idea is that you buy as few ingredients as you can while still maintaining a varied diet.

Try at least one new recipe or ingredient each week.

Plan for variety. Try not to get stuck in a cycle of making the same meals every week. This will get boring to eat and to cook. Build into your meal plan the idea that you will try at least one new recipe or ingredient each week and it will keep things exciting. This will also make you a better cook.

You should also, on occasion, plan for a night out or to get take out. I think it’s important to build this into your plan once or twice a month. Acknowledge that you are going to order a pizza sometimes, or go out for burgers. By building this into the meal plan you are taking away any negative feelings and instead have given yourself something to look forward to as a fun night.

How do you stick to the plan?

Sticking to your meal plan comes down to practice. Really, you just have to do it. But once you do it for even just a few weeks, you will notice that you are less stressed, you are spending less money, and you are eating better. You may even find that you enjoy cooking a bit more because there is a lot less stress.

Try not to be too hard on yourself if you mess up. Life is ever-changing and despite your best efforts sometimes your plan will just go to hell. Live with it, learn from it, and get right back to it. But don’t beat yourself up over it.

Prepping your meal plan

Now that you have a meal plan in place it is time to prep it. Take that 1-2 hour every 3-4 days and cook. Cook 1-2 big items like chicken, roast beef, or chili. Figure out how you can use those in multiple meals. Chicken, for example, can be a chicken dinner one night, a pulled chicken salad with lots of fresh vegetables the next night and chicken soup the third night. All of that can easily be prepared in 2 hours. Roast beef can be roast beef dinner the first night, really great sandwiches with horseradish mayo, arugula, and cheese, served with a salad the next night, and beef and barley soup the last night. Again, this can all be prepped in an hour or two.


Preparing all kinds of food is great, but unless you have a way to properly store the food, it is all kind of pointless. Invest in some multi-compartment containers. They are inexpensive and will do wonders for your meal prep game. Just build your meals in them, then you can quickly grab one, heat it and eat it. The meal will be fully portioned and ready to go. You can find a variety of meal prep containers here.

The point

The point is that eating well, even on a busy schedule isn’t impossible. It isn’t easy, it takes work and effort but isn’t it worth it? If you think it is then it’s time to get going on it.

I have put together a little infographic and meal prep guide that you can use to get yourself on the right track. You can download it here.

Also, if this all seems like too much work and you live in the Halifax area I do offer a meal prep delivery service. You order 3 – 5 days worth of food, I prepare it and deliver it. You just have to reheat it. You can check that out here.

The Best Of 30 Minutes Or Less

The Best Of 30 Minutes Or Less

Usually, on Monday I do a post called ’30 Minutes or Less’ where I describe how to make a specific dish in under 30 minutes. I make and document the dish on Sunday night and write the post in the morning. This weekend I was out of town helping some friends of mine with a large event and I didn’t get home last night until about 10 pm. Needless to say, I didn’t cook anything when I got home last night. Not even something that takes less than half an hour. I ate a salami sandwich, some doritos and fell asleep on the couch.

Today, because I don’t have a new dish to post I’m going to do something a little different. I thought it would be interesting to reflect back on all the ’30 minutes or less’ posts I have done so far, pick out the most popular ones and compile a list. Here we go…

Total ’30 minutes or less’

I started doing the ’30 minutes or less’ post way back in February. Since then I have done 23 posts in total. That equals a total of 690 minutes or about 11.5 hours of cooking. In that time I have cooked a wide range of items from herb and garlic pork chops, to chickpea curry, to linguine and clams. All have been delicious except for one, which was the haddock en papillote I messed up last week.

Of all the posts I do, all the social media content, everything, ’30 minutes or less’ is by far the most work. For an average 30 minute meal, I take at least 100 pictures. That means I have to edit and upload all of those pictures which generally takes about 1 to 2 hours. By the time I come up with the recipe, go out and buy all the groceries, set up the camera and lights, cook the meal, clean up the kitchen, edit and upload the pictures, write and edit the post and publish it about 6 1/2 hours have gone by. Even though it’s the most work of pretty much everything I do, it is also one of my favourite things that I do.

Considering all the work that goes into these posts it is nice to see the positive reaction that they get. I love to hear from people who cook the dishes because that’s really the whole reason I do this. That’s why I like doing these posts so much, they actually get people cooking. That makes it all worth it.

So, let’s take a look at the ’30 minutes or less’ posts that you guys liked the most.

Ginger Beef Lettuce Wraps

In all honesty, I am a bit surprised that this post has been as popular as it has. When I came up with it I knew the dish would be good but I wasn’t sure people would necessarily be interested in it. Well, I had no need to worry because I posted this back in May and it is still really popular.

What exactly is it? That’s a great question. It is ginger beef, with fresh vegetables and sriracha mayo wrapped in a lettuce leaf. I can’t express to you how delicious and simple this recipe is. If you haven’t made it, you should. Mix it into your weeknight schedule and you will not be disappointed.

You can find the full post here.


Chicken Shawarma Bowl

This one is also from way back in May. It is a base of white rice, with lettuce, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, and pickles, with garlic mayo and chicken dusted with homemade shawarma spice and roasted.

I love this post for a few reasons. It was one of my favourite ’30 minutes or less’ dishes to eat, and continue to eat as I make it regularly. It initially got a big reaction from people which I love, and it continues to perform very well. It is a delicious and healthy dish that also happens to look beautiful too.

Check out the full post here.

Finished Dinner

Corn Chowder

From all the way back in April we have my absolute favourite comfort food, Corn Chowder. This is one of the first dishes I ever learned to cook from my mom and I still make it her way to this day.

I love this post because it has deep personal meaning to me. You loved it because who doesn’t love Corn Chowder?

With the colder weather quickly approaching it is time to start planning to add this dish into the rotation again. Nothing warms the body and soul like a big bowl of homemade corn chowder.

Find the full post here.

noodles wok

Spicy Noodles

When I get home from work late, I’m tired and I don’t know what to eat, this or a version of this is my goto. Noodles with lots of vegetables, some kind of meat, a quick sauce and lots and lots of spice. It is filling, quick, easy and delicious. What’s not to love?

Check out the full post here.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a noodle dish from Thailand most often served as street food. Some versions have shrimp, tofu, pork or chicken. This one is a chicken version but the chicken can easily be substituted.

Over the past 5-10 years, Thai food has really grown in popularity which makes it no surprise that this is my most popular ’30 minutes or less’ post. One of the great things about Thai food is there is no BS. The food is made with lots of fresh, good quality ingredients, and big bold flavours.

Interestingly enough, Pad Thai was one of the dishes we were serving at the event I was helping with this weekend .So, I had a version of Pad Thai for lunch yesterday. What I love about this dish is that it is so versatile and there is so much variety. I mean, I ate it yesterday, but I would be more than happy to eat it again today.

Check out the full post here.


I really enjoy doing these ’30 minute or less’ posts and I look forward to doing more of them. I think and I hope that there is a lot of value in them.

If you have a suggestion for a ’30 minutes or less’ post I would love to hear from you. You can leave a comment on this post or contact me on social media.

Thank you as always for reading.

Oh! I almost forgot, I now have an amazon.ca storefront. Essentially I have compiled a few lists of my favourite cookbooks, favourite tools, that type of thing. If you buy something from the store I get a few cents. So, check it out here. If you see something that you were going to buy anyway, buy it there! You’ll get the product you wanted and you will help to support a blog you love.

Thank’s everyone!

The Rise Of The Meat Alternative

The Rise Of The Meat Alternative

It seems that over the last few weeks everywhere you turn people are talking about hamburgers that aren’t hamburgers. Meat made from plants, and not in the traditional sense of cow eats plants, turns into more cow. These plants, mostly soy and pea, are turned into meat in a lab. But why?

Today we are going to take a look at the rise of these meat substitutes. We will look at the two main companies behind this new wave of vegan meat alternatives. We’ll find out how their products are different from each other, and why we should care about them.

Today we are going beyond meat, and taking a look at the impossible foods of the future. Let’s get into it.

Beyond Meat –

If you live in Canada you have likely been hearing a lot about the Beyond Meat Burger. A&W has been selling Beyond Meat in Canada since July 2018 but it has only really hit the grocery stores here in the last few weeks. There has been a push to get the meat alternative into the grocery store fridges before grilling season kicked off last weekend.

Beyond Meat is a California based company that has been in business since 2009. Their mission is to fulfill the world’s protein needs with plants rather than animals. Why? They say to improve human health. Reduce the impact that feeding a grown global population has on our environment. Reduce the use of global resources like fresh water (currently 1/3 of all our fresh water goes to feeding live stock). Finally, to improving animal welfare.

Beyond Meat makes their meat alternative mostly with pea protein. This is mixed with canola oil, coconut oil, cellulose, potato starch, maltodextrin, yeast extract, salt, beet juice for colour, and a bunch of other stuff.

Their products do not contain peanuts or tree nut, however there has been some new research stating people with peanut allergies may have a reaction to pea protein. Beyond meat burgers are also gluten and soy free and GMO free.

Currently Beyond Meat is valued at $3.8 billion dollars and is sold in 50 countries.

Impossible Foods –

Impossible foods is also a California based company. They were founded in 2011. Like Beyond Meat, Impossible foods is on a mission to reduce the environmental impact of meat production and to feed a growing population.

The impossible burger doesn’t seem to have hit Canada just yet but is widely available in the US. Currently the only place to get an Impossible Burger outside the US is in Hong Kong. Eventually, they will be everywhere though.

Impossible foods makes there product mostly out of soy and potato proteins. They use coconut and sunflower oil to give the burger that meaty greasiness.

What really sets Impossible Foods apart from their competitors, including Beyond Meat is something they call Heme. Heme is this mythical item that is found in all living things. It is found in it’s greatest concentration in flesh and is what makes meat taste like meat. According to the company when we crave meat, we are actually craving Heme.

Impossible foods uses a genetically modified strain of yeast which they ferment, like brewing beer. But, rather than making beer they make Heme. If you are a little confused, let me clarify as best I can. It seems to me that they are essentially making a synthetic, plant based blood that they are using to flavour and colour their soy and potato proteins.

Impossible foods has defiantly taken a much more scientific approach than Beyond Meat, working at a molecular level to make something that supposedly really tastes like meat.

Meat Alternative Opinions –

Full disclosure, I have yet to try either of these products. One, the Impossible Burger I can’t get unless I travel to the US. The other, Beyond Meat, I actually looked for in the grocery store last night and couldn’t find. I am not opposed to trying either of these I just haven’t done it yet. When I do I will write about it.

Due to the fact that I haven’t tried either of these products I can’t speak to the flavour, texture, or overall meatiness of either of them. What I can say is that love the idea or hate it, meat alternatives are only going to become more and more prevalent. Likely, in a few years, no one will be able to tell the difference between meat and not meat.

There are some issues with these products. They are both very high in sodium and saturated fats. I think that is going to have to change before these really become a true meat alternative. When I say “true meat alternative” I mean meat eaters choose them over meat sometimes.

I think that it is important and an inevitability that we move partially away from animal protein sources. Beyond any other issue, it just isn’t sustainable with the current rate of global population growth. It just doesn’t make sense. So, if a company can produce a meat alternative that really is easier on the environment, and tastes great then I think it is fantastic.

I think that these alternatives, and the ones these companies and companies like them will be producing in the near future will in some ways allow us to have our cake and eat it too. We may still be able to get that delicious meat flavour and texture, but without the meat. I think it is an exciting and important prospect. What do you think?

When does cooking become fun?

When does cooking become fun?

For a lot of people out there, likely a lot of people reading this, cooking isn’t fun. It’s something that has to be done, but isn’t enjoyed. But what if it was? What if you could step into your kitchen confident and relaxed and just cook? I mean cook because you enjoy it. Cook because you want to. Because it is fun. It’s not a crazy idea.

As humans it is rare that we enjoy doing things that we feel we have to do or things we feel we’re not good at. Unfortunately, cooking often falls into both those categories. But I’m here telling you that you can enjoy cooking. It doesn’t matter who you are or current skill level, you can enjoy it. So, what’s the secret? More importantly…

When Does Cooking Become Fun?

There are two kinds of people out there. People who enjoy the process and people who enjoy the results. What do I mean?

Learning to play the guitar.

When I was 16 I decided that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I was handed an old beat-up guitar and a song book that showed how to form chords. I started practising. Eventually I learned a “C” chord and then a “G” and then a “D”. My fingers hurt, I would get frustrated that my hands wouldn’t do what I wanted them to do. Sometimes I would hate it and give up, but I always went back to it.

Even though there were parts of the learning process I hated, I enjoyed the fact that I was learning something. Every time I learned a new chord or got closer to playing a song it pushed me forward. It drove me to continue.

It’s been almost 20 years since I first started learning those basic chords. I will be the first to tell you that I am no great guitarist. However, I don’t need to be. I was never trying to be. I am able to draw a lot of joy out of what I can do and that’s all that ever mattered to me.

Because learning to play the guitar was something that I really wanted to do, I enjoyed the process of learning just as much as I enjoy being able to play. The fact of the matter is, I enjoyed learning because I was physically playing the guitar the whole time. It didn’t matter that it sounded terrible or that it was frustrating. I was playing.

Learning about food photography

A couple of years ago when I started growing my Instagram following I would just point my phone camera at my food take a picture and be done with it. I quickly realized that that just wasn’t enough. I had to learn about lighting, and staging photos, and composition, and photo editing. In all honesty, I hated every minute of it.

Truth be told I don’t really like taking pictures of food. I get no joy out of the process. Lighting photos, worrying about what’s in the background, blah. I don’t like thinking about composition and everything else. But I know that it is better for me to do all that stuff than to not do it.

Here’s the kicker to all this; I love the photos. Even though I don’t really enjoy the process of getting the photo, I love when I get it right. I love when the photo comes out perfect and the food looks amazing. The amount of joy I get out of that, actually makes all the other stuff worth it. It has actually made me start to enjoy that process.

The other part of all of this is that now I have learned enough about food photography that I can actually have a little fun with it. I’m am not expert, there’s loads more to learn. Really though, I know enough that I’m kind of over that hump. I can relax a little, think about things a little less, keep the outcome in mind since that is that part I really love.

So…when does cooking become fun?

The answer to that question comes down to the type of person you are. Are you the person who wants to cook and is going to enjoy the process of learning? Because if so, cooking becomes fun the moment you set your mind to learning more about it and actually doing it.

Are you the kind of person who likes eating good food but doesn’t like the process of making it? If you are this type of person, cooking becomes fun when you get to the point when you can make what you want, when you want, without thinking about the process and all the steps.

Really, it doesn’t matter what type of person you are. Cooking is the most fun when you know the fundamentals of it. Once you know the basic building blocks of a vinaigrette and can make an infinite number of vinaigrettes, it’s fun. When you know the basics of roasting meat and no longer how to worry about getting the oven temperature perfect or the exact amount of time it takes to cook, it’s fun. And, when you step into your kitchen without a recipe, have something in mind that you want to cook, and you just cook it exactly how you want, it is so much fun.

So, when does cooking become fun? That’s up to you. The more important point is that no matter who you are, it can become fun.

The Guide To Un-Healthy Eating

The Guide To Un-Healthy Eating

It is important to eat a healthy well balanced diet. We all know this. But sometimes we don’t want a nice balanced meal. Sometimes, we want decadence. Sometimes, we want to forget about our mortality and indulge our baser instincts. That dear reader, is what we are talking about here today.

So, please set aside the kale. Push the whole grains away. Disregard everything you know about what you should and should not be eating and let’s get dirty.

This is my…

Guide To Un-Healthy Eating

Un-healthy foods, the once in a while treats, are best when balanced by the perfect combination of sweet, salty, acid, fatty, and spicy. The more you can maximize those five elements the tastier your junk food will be.

Let’s take a look at those five elements individually to see how to get the most out of them.


In junk food sweetness generally comes from sugar. This sugar can be in many forms such as honey, maple syrup, molasses, fruit juices, caramel, or straight up sugar. It has a number of purposes in this un-healthy food application.

The first purpose of sugar is obviously sweetness. Humans generally love sweet. It’s like crack to our brains. Having that sweet element goes a long way to waking your brain to the fact that what you are eating is delicious and that you should eat more of it.

Another job the sugar does is work to mellow out heat. If you have something very spicy, a sweet element in the dish, even just some fruit will go a very long way.

One more job that the sugar is doing, is the same that all the other components are doing, adding balance to the dish. Rarely do you want to eat something that is all one flavour or sensation. It bores the palate. It becomes mundane. The more balance of flavours the better.


Salt as an element in junk food, like sugar, has many purposes. There is the obvious purpose of making something salty, like potato chips. But there are other purposes as well.

In junk food, salt can be thought of as a flavour unto itself, but also a flavour enhancer. In all food, salt acts to enhance the flavours around it.

A simple way to see this for yourself is to take a piece of watermelon, or even a piece of apple and sprinkle it with a little bit of good quality salt. Eat it. It will taste sweeter and some how more like itself than it does without salt.


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you have probably seen me write about building flavour with all these ingredients before. But when it comes to junk food, everything is turned up to 11. There is little to no subtlety. Flavours are bold and in your face.

If you were to read the label of your favourite type of potato chip (other than plain) or Doritos, or even candy, you will notice citric acid as one of the top ingredients. This adds that acidic element to these items.

We can add acid to our un-healthy foods in a variety of ways. These include vinegar, citrus juices, tomatoes, pickles, wine, cultured dairy products like cheese and yogurt, or condiments like ketchup, mustard, or hot sauce. All of these, if used as stand alone ingredients, think ketchup or vinegar on fries, adds a massive pop of flavour.

When the acidic ingredient is fully incorporated into a dish like tomato sauce in chili, it enhances all of the flavours around it. It does this without necessarily giving you that big acidic pop.

There are very few foods that I can think of, especially in the junk food arena that don’t benefit from a bit of acid. When used in small quantities, acidic ingredients perform in a similar manner to salt acting to enhance other flavours. In larger quantities, think hot sauce on wings, it alone packs a massive punch of flavour.

This actually leads perfectly into our next topic…


Fat can be a flavour, but more than that it is a texture and a sensation. The best way to illustrate this is pretty simple. Imagine eating a hot wing, like a very hot wing. What most commonly comes with hot wings? Either blue cheese dressing, or ranch. The reason for this is that the fattiness of the dressing coats the tongue and mellows the heat. That is fat as a sensation.

Another way this sensation can be demonstrated is to think of eating a rib eye steak or even a pork chop. Think of flavour and texture of the fattier bits. Just the mere thought of it has probably already got your mouth watering. Mine is.

The fact that your mouth is likely watering is the point. The fattiness in foods causes your mouth to water. This wakes up your taste buds and makes everything taste better.

A really, really good example of a balance of fatty and salty is potato chips. Three ingredients; potatoes, fat, and salt. The world most popular snack. What about buttered popcorn. Again three ingredients; popcorn, fat and salt. Even a really simple steak; steak, fat, and salt. Amazing, right?


There aren’t many un-healthy foods, or even healthy foods for that matter than can’t benefit from a bit of spice.

Spice, isn’t just a flavour, it is a full body experience. Don’t believe me? Think about it. When you eat something spicy, your skin warms, your pupils dilate, you salivate like crazy. Your nose runs, your eyes water. You start to sweat, your whole body tingles. A lot of spicy food can even give you a sense of euphoria.

There is nothing else like chilies. Nothing. Having this spicy element in your junk or un-healthy food makes it taste better, and brings the whole body into it. What could be better than that?

My favourites/Putting it all together

Chicken Wings

One of my favourite junk foods is chicken wings. The way I like to make them is first make a sauce by cooking equal parts Franks Red Hot Sauce with honey until it is thick.

I deep fry my wings in 350°f oil for 8-10 minutes or until they are cooked through. I toss them in the sauce and then serve them with a mixture of sour cream, mayo, blue cheese, green onions, parsley and garlic. Essentially, a quick blue cheese ranch.

These have the perfect balance of sweet, salty, acid, fatty, and spice. It doesn’t get better than that.


There are not many things better than ribs. I like to brine my ribs in a solution of water, salt, sugar, and flavourings like bay leaf, thyme, clove, cinnamon, and pepper corns. This builds the salty and the sweet right into the meat.

To make the brine I use 2 L of water, 1/4 cup of kosher salt, 1/4 cup of sugar, 6 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 thinly sliced onion,1 bay leaf, 2 cloves crushed garlic, and 12 pepper corns. Bring all of this to a boil and cook until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Let the brine cool completely and then strain it and pour the liquid over some ribs and let them sit in it, in the fridge over night.

Once the ribs have come out of the brine I rinse them off, pat them dry, season them with salt and pepper and slow roast them on 300°F for about four hours. Then I sauce them with a sweet, acidic sauce and broil them.



The idea with junk food is to pack as much flavour into as small a package as you can while keeping balance between those five elements.

Like I said, junk food or un-healthy food has the flavours turned up to 11. Eating this kind of stuff everyday will absolutely take time off your life. But, what’s the point in living if you don’t get to indulge once in a while?

Meal Plans For The Win

Meal Plans For The Win

Sitting down on a Sunday for an hour or so and planning out your meals for the week doesn’t sound like the most fun thing to do. It isn’t. However, it’s a lot more fun than going into full panic mode at 6:30pm on a Wednesday because you have no idea what to make for dinner.

Meal plans can take a lot of the stress out of eating throughout the week. They can save you money because you are less likely to order take out if you have a plan. And as part of your plan you can map out how you are going to use leftovers so, you are using everything to the max.

In this post I am going to explain my thoughts on how to build a usable and practical meal plan. I’m going to share a meal plan that I have written, as well as a downloadable template that you can use to build your own weekly meal plans. Let’s get into it.

Meal Plans For The Win

What makes a good meal plan?

A good meal plan shouldn’t be repetitive. Each meal should stand alone, but if possible use elements from the previous meal to prevent waste. A good meal plan is based on two or three large meals, the components of which can be used to make other meals.

It’s okay to use the same ingredients and leftovers as long as you are using them in a new way. No one wants to eat spaghetti and meat sauce three or four days in a row. But, if you can add a few ingredients to the sauce and change it’s flavour, and use that in a different dish, no one will even notice.

Below is a meal plan that I have mapped out. Let’s walk through it.

If we look at Monday, we can see roasted chicken with rice, roasted vegetables, and Greek salad. It’s a pretty straight forward meal. The chicken and vegetables get roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe some oregano. The rice is very basic. And then Greek salad is Greek salad. Ideally, this would be a whole roasted chicken which would lead to a bunch of leftovers.

Make extra salad and vegetables and mix them together with a bit of chicken for lunch.

On Tuesday we have chicken fried rice with vegetable stir fry.

The reason we kept the rice plain on Monday was so we could use it to make fried rice on Tuesday. Some rice, peas, carrot, onion, pulled chicken, egg, and soy sauce, makes a delicious, and simple fried rice. Add some stir fried vegetables on the side and you have a full meal.

Fried rice stores well in the fridge and reheats well for a delicious lunch.

By Wednesday there isn’t going to be much meat left on the chicken from Monday. But that doesn’t mean it’s garbage.

On Wednesday we take the chicken carcass and make a stock. This is done by simmering the chicken leftovers in water with a bit of onion, celery, and carrot. This can be done in the slow cooker.

After a few hours we strain the bones, saving the liquid and picking off any meat we can. From there we discard the bones and carrot, onion, and celery and use the liquid to make a vegetable soup. We add the now twice cooked chicken bits in at the very end. Serve this with a grilled cheese and dinner’s done. Probably some leftovers for lunch too.

On Thursday we start over. We make a meat sauce and have it with spaghetti squash and Caesar salad. Garlic bread would be good here too. Make extra salad and keep the dressing off of it so you can have it for lunch tomorrow.

On Friday we re-purpose the meat sauce by adding some chili and maybe even some sausage or lentils. We mix this with cooked penne pasta, put it in a casserole dish, top it with cheese and bread crumbs and bake it. Serve this with a garden salad.

On Saturday we have a vegetarian chickpea curry with rice and naan bread. It’s something a little different to break up the flavours of the week.

Finally, on Sunday we make a big meal of pork roast with apple sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The idea here is that we can use that pork for the next two or even three days. If it’s a bone-in pork roast, we can use the bone to make soup on the third or fourth day.


Meal planning isn’t a difficult thing to do. It does take some time, and some creativity, but it is worth it in the end. Imagine if you didn’t have to spend a Thursday evening stressing about what you were going to have for dinner. Imagine how much money and time you can save. It makes it seem worth it doesn’t it?

Below is a blank pdf copy of the meal plan above. Download it, print it out, and use it. Try it for just one week. You may find yourself very surprised at much more relaxed you are around meal times.

10 Foods to have on hand this holiday season

Don’t let surprise guests get you down this Holiday Season

At this time of year it is not uncommon for last minute guests to show up on your door step. Be prepared for the season by having the following 10 foods on hand. 


Cheese is delicious. Most people love it. Having a few good varieties on hand will insure that no matter what, you have a snack that your guest is more than likely to love. And a snack that takes no effort to put together. I suggest having a minimum of three varieties on hand. 

Blue Cheese

Even though not everyone likes it, I always suggest having one type of blue cheese in your fridge. For those who do like it, it will be a welcome treat. I do suggest sticking with milder blue cheeses which will please any palate.

Gorgonzola is always a safe bet. It’s not too pungent. Other varieties that work well for a range of people are Shropshire blue, Stilton, and Bénédictin blue.

If you happen to live in Nova Scotia Blue Harbour makes really good blue cheese which can be found at Pete’s and Sobeys. Another Nova Scotia cheese, Dragons Breath Blue from That Dutchman is always a crowd pleaser.  


Along with blue cheese a firmer cheese like a good quality aged cheddar is always nice as well. The key here is good quality. Avoid big brands like Kraft and Cracker Barrel. 

Go to the deli section and look through the selection of higher end cheeses. Spending a little extra money or a really good cheddar is absolutely worth it. 

Cows 2 year old aged cheddar is amazing. Balderson cheddar is very good as well. 

Soft Cheese

A soft cheese like brie or camembert can be served by it’s self with bread or crackers, even with some fruit. But it also works well as a part of a larger cheese plate. 


A good variety of crackers never hurt anyone. I am always partial to Breton crackers, Ritz, and Triscuits will please almost anyone. 

Nowadays it’s a good idea to have a gluten-free option on hand as well. Breton makes really good gluten-free crackers as does Mary’s

Having some good fruit and nut crackers, or crostinis on hand makes a nice added touch. Really though, just about anything crisp that can hold some cheese or dip will do. 


Whether it’s pickles, olives, jams, or chutneys having preserves on hand is always a good idea. They last long and work well with cheese, cured meets, and anything else you can imagine. 

I like gherkins a lot. Along with cocktail onions, good quality olives, and a savoury jam. 

Dips and Spreads

Dips and Spreads are good to have on hand but they don’t have the longest shelf life. But what’s really good about them is they are really easy to make. Whether it’s spinach artichoke dip, smoked salmon cream cheese spread, or whatever else you can imagine, you can make it. 

As long as you have ingredients on hand a delicious dip can be thrown together from almost anything. 

For example: Bacon cooked with onion, a pile of corn, some chipotle, and cream, and then puréed makes an amazing spread. Same with peas, prosciutto, and some fresh herbs. You don’t need much to make something that will blow people away.


Having a variety of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages around is always a good idea. If you do have alcohol make sure that you have things to mix with it. 

I actually really like the idea of either learning or coming up with one really good cocktail that is your “Christmas Cocktail” that you make for all your guests. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But it will give yours guests something a bit surprising, and hopefully very delicious. 


You can cut it up and add it to the cheese plate, or just offer it by it’s self. You can’t go wrong with a variety of fruit. 

I like to have clementines, grapes, and apples around. 

Dried fruit like dates, apricots, and figs are great to have around because they last a really long time, make a great snack and go great with cheese and meats. 

Cured Meats

This could be as simple as the three pack of antipasto meats you get at the grocery store. However you could also go out and get some high-end pâté. 

Whatever you like just have it around. Worst case scenario is that you get to eat it all by yourself. 

Having some cured meats on hand makes it easy to put a quick last minute snack platter together. 


It’s the holidays. Have chocolate around. 

Baked Good

Any kind of cookie, cake, square, or whatever else is good to have on hand because they are great at any time of day. If you have someone drop by for tea on Saturday morning you likely aren’t going to want to bust out a cheese plate. Same goes for late night visitors. 


I wasn’t going to include this on the list because a lot of people have nut allergies. However, unless you know that someone with nut allergies is coming to your house, I would have them around. 

They work great on their own or can be added to a cheese or snack tray. 

Other things

I’m sure that there are other things that you like to have around at this time of year. I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 

I personally always have smoked mussels and cream cheese around because it is one of my all time favourite things. Maybe you like to have a shrimp ring. 

The point really is just to be prepared to be a good host no matter how big of a surprise your guests are. I think that’s a big part of what this time of year is all about. 

Holiday Secrets – Getting Out Of December Alive 

Holiday Secrets – Getting Out Of December Alive 

For most of us, December is the busiest month of the year. We are getting our Christmas shopping done, spending more time with family and friends than we have all year, and planning the biggest day and dinner of the year. It can be a lot. It can be overwhelming at times. The pressure that we put on ourselves during the holidays can lead to us not enjoying even a second of it. But is there another way?

I’m not an expert in family physiology. I don’t have a diploma in gift wrapping, and I can’t tell you the perfect toy to get for your kid. What I can do is share with you the two biggest secrets that I picked up in years working in the restaurant industry. These will help you get through this holiday season unscathed.

Holiday Secrets – Getting Out Of December Alive 

In the food industry December is a crazy month. Restaurants are busier than usual because of all the people out shopping and not really having time to eat at home. On top of that, it is Christmas party season which makes things 10 x worse. It can be a really crazy month. But we always get through it. Come out the other side better than when we went in. Maybe a little battered and bruised, but we always make it out.

The things that we do in restaurants that get us through the busiest times can you help you too. No matter what, these two principles will get you through as they always have for us.

The secret to the holidays, unsurprisingly, is planning and preparation. Maybe not as sexy as you thought it was going to be, but true none the less.


For a handful of you out there this is going to seem like the most obvious thing in the world. Of course planning is going to help you get through the month. However, I guarantee that the majority of people reading this haven’t really planned out anything for holidays. Maybe they know where they are going to be on Christmas morning, or who will be at dinner, but that’s about it.

When I say planning what I mean is planning for everything. Take a few hours and plan out the whole month. When are you going to do your last minute shopping? When are you going to bake? Are you going to get the ingredients you need to do your baking on the same day you are baking? Did you already buy your turkey? What are the side dishes going to be? Who is going to help make dinner? Is anyone going to help with the dishes? What are you going to eat on the busy days leading up to Christmas? What’s for breakfast on Christmas morning, what about boxing day?

These are all important questions that you should ask yourself. Write down your answers and ask any other question that you think are relevant. As mundane as it may seem it really will help you. Even just the act of thinking about these things will help you.

Once you have things planned out it’s time to start phase two.


In restaurants we just refer to this as prep and that’s what we are going to call it from here on out.

So, what do I mean when I say prep. I mean get everything as ready as you possibly can before it needs to be done.

Planning is the act of thinking ahead. Prep is the act of acting ahead.

Anything that you can do before you absolutely need to do it is prep and it will help you. I mean anything no matter how small.

You are going to be wrapping gifts, you don’t want to stop because you ran out of tape. Right? Make sure you have more than enough. Make sure you have wrapping paper. Wrap presents as you get them home if you can. Save yourself from hours of wrapping hell buy spreading it out over time.

Baked goods freeze very well. Why not do all of your Christmas baking this week? Bake it, put it in the freezer and be done with it.

Pull your Christmas lights out and go through them before you buy your Christmas tree. That way, when you go to decorate your tree your not messing with the lights. You know they are ready to go.

Even Christmas dinner need not be a big stressful thing. Don’t believe me? Take a look at my thanksgiving post here. The same principles apply.

There are so many little things that if done ahead seem like nothing but if left until the last minute pile up and become a giant problem. The holidays are stressful enough. Do everything in your power to avoid adding more undue stress.


Again, I know that to some of you this all seems painfully obvious. But I also know that there people out there that just read this and a giant light bulb came on in their head. Sometimes the obvious things are only obvious when someone points them out to us.

I also know that these aren’t really holiday secrets but rather life secrets but they work none the less.

The final point that I want to make is that things don’t have to be as stressful as they often are. With a little planning and prep you may actually enjoy this holiday season. And if not, there is always alcohol.

Top Five Things To Eat When You’re Sick

Top Five Things To Eat When You’re Sick

Two weeks ago I woke up with a bad cold. That cold kind of kicked my ass, but last Monday I thought I was through the worst of it. I was wrong. This past week I have been sicker than I have been in years. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was as sick as I have been. I spent five days on the couch not moving or doing anything except watching Netflix and ingesting fluids and cold meds. Yesterday, I left the house for the first time in a week walking to our community mailbox which depleted my energy. Overall today I do feel a bit better but I’m still coughing, I’m still congested, and I still don’t feel very good.

I’m telling you all of this so you understand why I haven’t been writing lately and also because it leads into today’s post. The top five things I like to eat when I’m sick. Now, full disclosure, I haven’t actually been eating much. These are the things I like to eat when I’m sick. So, let’s jump into it.


Number 1. Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup

This is a classic for a reason. There is something about chicken noodle soup that makes you feel better. It could be the chicken broth or it could just be that homey feeling you get from it. Either way, I’m sure this dish would be on most peoples list of favourite things to eat when they’re sick.

Number 2. Spicy Noodle Soup

spicy noodle soup

Essentially, this is the same as chicken noodle soup just with a different flavour profile. I take a basic chicken noodle soup and add ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sambal chilli paste, fish sauce, maybe a touch of sugar, and whatever else I have lying around like lemongrass or rice vinegar. The spice helps with the congestion while the ginger and garlic are really good for colds. Sick or not, this is one of my favourite things to eat.

Number 3. Shephard’s Pie

shephards pie

This doesn’t have the same healing properties of chicken noodle soup, but it is delicious. Growing up, this was always my favourite meal. Often I would ask for it as my birthday meal. I think this is more about comfort than about healing.

Number 4. Fruit and Veggies


I don’t know if it’s because my body is craving the vitamins and nutrients that come with raw fruits and veggies or just because they are delicious but I always crave these when I’m sick. It could be carrots and celery sticks, or apples and oranges. It doesn’t matter. Delicious and good for you.

Number 5. Junk Food 


The final thing I crave when I’m sick is junk food. Cookies, chips, popcorn, pizza, burgers I crave it all. It sounds weird and even I find it odd but it’s true. I crave junk when I’m sick.



So, there you go. A quick list of what I like to eat when I’m sick. A nice way to ease me back into my routine. Hopefully, over the next few days, I will get back to my normal self. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m pretty tired of being sick.

Thanks, everyone.

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