Category: Family Meals

The Instant Pot Diabetes Cookbook

The ultimate Instant Pot cookbook for people with diabetes, from the diabetes food and nutrition experts!

About The Instant Pot Diabetes Cookbook

This Instant Pot–authorized cookbook from the experts at the American Diabetes Association contains ninety easy and healthy recipes made with simple ingredients. Inside, you will find nutritious Instant Pot recipes that will easily transform into mouth-watering meals.

Each recipe includes detailed instructions to walk you through every step of cooking with your Instant Pot. Recipes include family favorites as well as a wide range of options inspired by Mexican, Italian, Thai, Indian, and Cajun cuisines. Whatever you have a taste for, you’ll find it in this book!

Each recipe meets the nutrition guidelines set by the American Diabetes Association.

My Thoughts

Statistics Canada reports that in 2017, 7.3% of Canadians, 12 years of age and older, reported having diabetes. In the US, CDC reported in 2015 that 30.3 million Americans were living with diabetes.

With so many individuals living with diabetes you would think there would be greater acceptance and understanding. I still find that diabetes has a stigma and people dealing with it are faced with this daily. I was privileged to sit in on a research talk about diabetes and the stigma attached to it (they indulge too much, lack of self control, they did it to themselves, overweight, etc..) and how sometimes when we want to help our loved ones, we actually make it worse. Especially when we tear down their food choices, nag them to eat better and so on. Our well meant advice can have that opposite affect and make our loved one feel hurt and angry.

So how do we help those we love?

I love cooking – it brings us together as a family and helps us bond. Since food is constantly around us, what better way to show we care and understand then preparing meals that are healthy for the whole family but also take into consideration the dietary needs of a loved one who has diabetes. You aren’t forcing them to have a special meal, you are not signalling them out and making them feel bad about themselves. Instead, you are enjoying a healthy, nutritious meal that is good for all members of the family.

When this book came in, my husband started going through it and his mouth was watering. He almost didn’t want to give it up to my Dad who was diagnosed with diabetes roughly two years ago! All of the recipes looked delicious – they certainly did not look like they were geared to a special diet. I think this is one of the most important parts about this book, it doesn’t make you feel bad about having diabetes. Instead, you can choose recipes that taste delicious, everyone can enjoy and no one feels left out or bad about themselves.

The recipes themselves were easy to follow, with simple instructions and many of the ingredients you would have on hand. My Dad had purchased an Instant Pot a few years ago as a Christmas gift but never really used it, so this came in handy! My Dad loves to cook so this was a perfect book for him. He had no problem with the instructions and loved the taste and quality of the recipes.

If you have a family member who is living with diabetes and you are looking at ways to encourage healthy eating for all members of the family, I strongly encourage you to pick up this book and start cooking. It is so important that people living with diabetes feel included and not ashamed for having diabetes. Including recipes that all family members will enjoy is a definite must have.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Nancy S. Hughes is a bestselling author and leading food consultant. She has written more than 20 nationally published cookbooks and developed recipes for 60 additional cookbooks with over 7,500 published recipes to her credit. Nancy has been honored to work with clients across the U.S. and Canada. She works with major corporations, health-focused organizations, magazines, and web-based clients including: the American Heart Association, Cooking Light, Better Homes and Gardens, Betty Crocker, Del Monte Foods, the Canola Council, National Processed Raspberry Council, Rice Federation, eMeals, and Nestlé.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Celebrating Family Around the Table with Hamilton Beach: Bread Maker

My favourite memories as a child and teenager were spent in the kitchen cooking with my Dad. I loved the holidays as we would prepare cannelloni, lasagna, veal and all types of desserts. I would spend half my time helping prepare the meals and the other half eating the ingredients (cannelloni stuffing is still my favourite – all of that delicious spinach and cheese goodness).

Good food and family were the two most important things we had growing up in our home. They were the centre of every happy, fun moment and especially around the holiday season. This is the gift I want to give my own kids – family and good food.

The one thing I always wished I learned how to do in my youth? Make bread.

There is nothing better then fresh, warm bread to accompany your meal (it is like a giant hug on a bad day). We always had a loaf of bread with every meal and I was always the first to volunteer to go pick one up at the bakery (I loved the smell and how the bag would just heat up). Not to mention, bread is the best way to clean up those dirty sauce pots over the holidays!

My only problem? I have been incapable of making bread from scratch – it doesn’t rise, it is still uncooked after it is finished cooking in the oven or it is rock solid. After many failed attempts, I gave up (my pride couldn’t handle the bad loaves and the teasing from the kids).

We were able to test out the Hamilton Beach Premium Dough and Bread maker leading up to the holiday season and I can honestly say that I am in love with this machine.

The Hamilton Beach Premium Dough and Bread maker is on the bigger size but it does tuck away perfectly in our pantry closet, although I tend to leave it on my counter as it fits right in the corner. It has a beautiful, sleek stainless steel design so it can match any kitchen decor and will fit in with your other appliances.

The bread maker looks intimidating at first but it is actually very simple to use. You adjust each setting with the turn of the dial (which for me was the hardest part to learn) – making changes for the type of bread, loaf size and the crust colour (light, medium or dark). Once you have added all of your ingredients, adjusted the settings – it does the rest for you. You can literally just step away and enjoy the smell of the bread rising, warming and baking.

The clean up? Surprisingly very simple. My husband teased me a bit thinking that the machine would be messy on the inside but I could clean the inside with a paper towel. There was no sticky dough left in the machine (similar to when you make the bread by hand) and the pan that contains the ingredients was simple to wash in the sink. Nothing stuck to any of the parts, except for a bit of dry crust on the mixer piece.

Hamilton Beach has a great selection of recipes on their website – we have been using the French bread and Italian Parmesan recipes. Both have become huge hits in our home and take roughly three to four hours to bake with roughly a five minute prep time. So no excuses for not being able to make fresh bread, you can whip those ingredients out and have them in the machine in five to ten minutes.

The bread always came out perfectly, despite being paranoid the whole time that it wouldn’t work. The first time we made the french bread we realized we didn’t like the recommended crust colour (it came out a bit harder, which I know french bread can be but my kids like their bread softer) so the next time we went for a medium and it was perfect. Be careful when you are removing the pan from the machine, it gets very hot! I burnt the edge of my finger on the fourth time, but everyone was so excited to snag a piece of bread that they didn’t notice I hurt myself (no worries, it didn’t even blister!).

The bread maker made it possible for us to enjoy delicious home made bread with minimal effort, mess and clean up. Every recipe came out exactly as expected and added that missing piece from my childhood.

Do you have a baker in the family? This would make a perfect gift for the holiday season for them. The machine is roughly $149 Canadian, you can find more details on their website here.

Make sure to follow Hamilton Beach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date with the latest recipes and products!

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Family Dining at Paramount Fine Foods

We are an extremely busy family with two kids in competitive soccer, both working full time and owning my small business. It can be very hard to find the time to sit down and spend quality time with each other. But this is very important to us and also what makes those moments so special.

We recently visited Paramount Fine Foods in Mississauga – a treasure of a find tucked away on Crestlawn Drive. If you are not familiar with the restaurant, Paramount Fine Foods is the fastest growing Middle Eastern food chain in Canada with over 60 restaurants across the country. You can find all of their locations here.

This elegant restaurant (with exquisite attention to detail) offers something for everyone. You can enjoy incredible, mouth watering recipes in a warm and inviting environment. And the kids – they can enjoy the Kids playground once they are done eating or while you are waiting on your food order.

For our visit, we ordered Manakeesh and the mixed combo platter. This was my kids and my first time trying Middle Eastern cuisine, while my husband has had it several times. We were not disappointed at all. We loved the Manakeesh, we ordered it with just cheese and it hit the spot.

We could not get over how much food was on the mixed combo platter., everything looked and tasted divine. We loved how the platter offered enough of each of our favourites – chicken, beef, rice and fries! They also have a fantastic kids menu, which had chicken fingers for the picky eater in our family. He managed to eat a little bit of everything.

I loved that we could all dive right in and share the same dishes, it made the experience feel like we were at home. Our youngest even said Mom – this tastes like home cooking but better! Which at first, I gave him the stink eye thinking he was making fun of my cooking but he was trying to say the food tasted real and healthy. Which, as any parent of a picky eater knows, is a win- win.

Our kids get full fast (I wish I had this problem!) so it was incredibly helpful that Paramount Fine Foods had a closed in Kids Playground that he could use while he waited for Mom and Dad to finish up. He felt comfortable coming and going from the table to the playground, and never felt that he was disrupting others.

For all my parents looking for an amazing evening out at a restaurant that not only has great food but is also welcoming to children, Paramount Fine Foods is a great option for you on your next family night out!

Make sure to check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with events and new menu items.

Disclosure: We were hosted at Paramount Fine Foods to experience their location. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Michael Smith’s Family Meals #review

The process of preparing a meal and eating it is very important in our home. Cooking together helps us bond, laugh and share stories. I still remember as a child helping my Dad prepare dishes and helping myself to his cannelloni stuffing at the same time! Good food has a special way of bringing families together. Michael Smith’s Family Meals is the ultimate family cook book with healthy recipes, life hacks and so much more.

I am not a huge fan of the typical organization of cook books – you know the ones that list recipe after recipe with few pictures, complicated ingredients and no tips. As soon as I start flipping a cook book open to find that back on the shelf it goes. What I like about Michael Smith’s recipe books is that he shares his recipes as a story. You are part of his adventure in the kitchen and it is like he is there teaching you each step. He has a down to earth approach that even the most novice of cooks can appreciate.

The photographs in this book are incredible. Not even going to lie some are down right drool worthy. The type that make you want to drop everything and have that meal right that very second. Michael also features his family in this book which truly touched home for me. Michael is a Father who loves to cook for his family and provide them with nourishment. His children share that passion and it is lovely to see them helping out with their special roles of cracking eggs, stirring and so much more.

In Family Meals, Michael places a strong emphasis on fresh foods – and fresh foods has always been a secret ingredient of mine. I love the taste of fresh picked tomatoes in my sauces. It really gives that extra special touch to any dish. Meals made from local and unprocessed ingredients is very important to me as a Mother.

The book is divided into several sections for breakfast, lunch, salads, desserts and so much more. In between each section you can find life hacks for cooking, snack ideas and so much more. These were honestly some of my favourite sections. So many fantastic ideas in just a couple of pages – who says eating healthy takes too much time? Not anymore – apple peanut butter sandwiches anyone?

One of the first recipes we tried? Nacho burgers. Yup you heard that right – nacho burgers. What a great twist on a family favourite. I am able to share his recipe with you courtesy of Michael Smith and Penguin Canada!

Makes 6 large or 8 smaller burgers

For the burgers
  • 2 pounds (900g) of ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) of ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon (15mL) of salt
  • Lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 onion, minced

For the burger buns
  • 1 teaspoon (5mL) of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30mL) of butter, melted
  • 6 or 8 of your favorite burger buns

To garnish the burgers
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (20mL) of your favorite salsa per burger
  • ¼ cup (60mL) of any shredded cheese per burger
  • 3 or 4 tortilla chips, crushed, per burger

Build a hardwood fire and ultimately a bed of glowing coals. Or prepare and preheat your grill or stove top griddle to high.
To make the burgers, have a clean plate on the counter and a few sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap nearby. Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Break it up a bit and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the meat as evenly as you can with the cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and onions. Using your hands, thoroughly and evenly mix the works together. Form the proceeds into 6 or 8 evenly shaped thin burgers and place them on the plate, with the wax paper in between layers.
To ready the buns for the grill, stir the chili powder into the melted butter and brush the fragrant fat onto the cut sides of the buns. Just before grilling the burgers, toast the buns until lightly browned and delicious.

Grill the burgers until browned, 4 or 5 minutes a side. Move the finished burgers straight from the grill to their toasted buns so the juices soak into the bread. Top with the salsa, cheese, tortilla chips and bun tops. Serve and share!

Rating: 5/5

Michael Smith’s Family Meals is a cook book for you and your family to share, love, cook and have fun with. Is cooking important to your family? How do you encourage your children to help out in the kitchen?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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