Category Archives: Food and Nutrition

Recipe of the Week: Eton Mess

By Marzia Shamsi

Classic Eton mess is a quick, crowd-pleasing dessert when made with store bought meringue. It’s also a great way to use up broken homemade meringue (my personal preference). Classically Eton mess is made with whipped cream, meringue and strawberries, but you can add replace them with seasonal fruits too, or try it with raspberries, bananas and pineapples. Here’s how to make it.

Ingredients

  • 500g strawberries, hulls removed
  • 400ml/14fl oz. double cream
  • 3 x 7.5cm/3 in ready-made meringue nests, crushed
  • sprigs of fresh mint, to garnish

Preparation 

  1. Purée half the strawberries in a blender and chop the rest, reserving four for garnish.
  2. Layer the martini glass first with crushed meringue then whipped cream and fruits and repeat. Top off with sliced strawberries.
  3. Enjoy!

 

About the Author: 

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

A Three Course Meal For Diabetics

By Marzia Shamsi

Beat diabetes

As we all are well aware an individual suffering from diabetes normally has to keep a very sharp and strict diet regime. But did you also know that their meals should vary as per 50% of total daily carbs, 20% calories from protein and 30% calories from fat  of which 7% should be from saturated fat?

A personalized diet plan has always been at the top of my priorities and caught my interests for the same, firstly as a daughter and then as a chef. Diabetes is a very common disease in my family; my grandmother first, then dad  and other elders in our family also suffer from  diabetes. Dad’s eating habits have always caused me concern and I researched for a long time on different ways to keep him under a strict special dietary plan without the food loosing its natural flavours. I have learned that it is never too late to learn and help a member of your family through this by introducing them to meals that are easy to make, delicious, very healthy, yet appetizing to your eyes.

Any individual suffering from diabetes should follow few of the point below while considering their routine meal plans:

  • Always include fibre contents,whole grain starch options and incorporating fruits and vegetables.
  • Limit the use of fat in general
  • Food options should vary, from grilling or sautéing using a fat free non-stick cooking spray. Or use a small amount of canola or olive oil.
  • Choose low fat dairy products, skim or a 1% milk, low fat yoghurt and low fat cheese.
  • Make sure you portion your meals properly.
  • Always include 15 to 30 grams of carbs in your evening snacks.

Here is my personalized special dietary 3 course meal for a diabetic patient keeping all the nutritional values in mind and trying to keep the flavours intact just like in any normal recipe.

Starter

imagesU61YBYQN

Clear Chicken & Vegetable Soup

  • 500 g skinless chicken breast
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 1 leeks, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 -4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 8 cups water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. In the meantime, cut up all the vegetables into small cubes.
  3. Cut the chicken into 1cm cubes.
  4. Add in vegetables and garlic and stock and boil on high heat for 5 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add chicken and bring to boil for 2 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or longer.
  6. Soup is ready when all ingredients have sunk to the bottom!

Main Course

1008-ej-fish-florentine-en-papillote-620x400

Fish en papillote with brown rice

Papillote means paper in Italian,  ’en papillote’ is a method of cooking in which  food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be also be used. The parcel holds in moisture to steam the food while the pocket is created by overlapping circles of aluminum foil and parchment paper and then folding them tightly around the food to create a seal. A papillote should be opened at the table to allow people to partake in the aroma when it opens. It is by far one of the finest tasting baked fish recipe I have made.

  • Fish fillet of your choice, 1 to 1 1/2 lb. in four equal portions
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. minced lemon zest
  • 4 scallions (both white and green parts)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 tbs. softened butter (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat  oven to 450°F.
  2. To make the gremolata, mince the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest together. Set aside.
  3. Cut the scallions into 2-in. lengths and slice them lengthwise. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and spread the top with butter, if desired.
  4. Divide the scallions among four sheets of parchment, top each with a portion of fish, and top the fish with a portion of gremolata. Seal the packages and bake on a sheet pan until puffy and browned, about 8 min

 Desserts

images2VD2A0C9

Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like cantaloupe decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes and heart disease while promoting a healthy complexion and hair growth, increased energy and overall lower weight. This  recipe is perfect in all aspects and not just for diabetics but for everyone. It is a healthy yet delicious way to finish of this three course meal.

Creamcheese filled cantaloupe bowls with strawberry sauce

  • Light tub-style cream cheese or mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and coarsely chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe, seeded
  • 1/3 cup strawberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender or dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
  • Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. For filling: In a small bowl, stir together cream cheese, honey and nutmeg until smooth. Stir in nuts, set aside.
  2. Using an ice cream scoop (around 1/4 cup measure), scoop two large balls out of the cantaloupe (one side of each ball will be indented). Save remaining cantaloupe for another use. Set each cantaloupe ball in a small bowl or custard cup, indented side up. (If necessary, cut a thin slice from the bottom of each ball so it sits flat.)
  3. Spoon or pipe cream cheese mixture into the indentation of each melon ball.
  4. In a blender or small food processor, combine strawberries, honey, and dried lavender. Blend or process until smooth. Press through a sieve to remove raspberry seeds. Spoon strawberry coulis mixture around cheese-filled cantaloupe cups. If desired, garnish with the 1/4 cup raspberries and mint leaves. Makes 2 (1 portion cantaloupe, 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture, and 2 tablespoons strawberry coulis) servings

Some day, I hope to convey this message to everyone suffering from diabetes, and their families, that you don’t have to give up on flavourful food to maintain your health. We need to educate everyone, not just those who are diabetic, but also those who are around them that Diabetes is not the end of the world, every problem always has a solution. We can bring back joy in their lives by little gestures and food is definitely one of them.

About the author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, she is a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

Recipe of the Week: Easy Nutella Cake

By Marzia Shamsi

Nutella Cake

If you’re a massive Nutella fan you’re going to love this recipe. A rich chocolate sponge cake made with Nutella and topped with, you guessed it, more Nutella! This delicious, gooey chocolate cake is perfect served alongside vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh cream – serve for dessert or as an afternoon treat with a cuppa. My eight year old is just perfect at making this one. It’s a fun recipe that you can do with your own or with the kids as this is an exciting way to get them them busy when cooped in indoors. The trick to get an even suface on the cake with the icing is to make sure the cake is not completely cooled when spreading  Nutella on top – the slight warmth of the cake will make it much easier to spread Nutella evenly. Store this cake in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 100g butter
  • 100g Nutella
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • ½tsp baking powder

To decorate and fill

  • Nutella

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line two 21cm/9inch cake tins with greaseproof paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients together using an electric mixer. Once combined, pour into the cake tins making sure you’ve got an even amount in each.
  3. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until springy to touch.
  4. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack but don’t let them cool completely. When the two cakes are warm, decide which is going to be your base and spread with a thick layer of Nutella.
  5. Pop the top cake onto the base and press down firmly sandwiching  them together. Cover the top of the cake with more Nutella and spread with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

About the Author: 

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother to two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home her first and last name is Mom. An amateur blogger who’s just started out, Marzia loves to share her thoughts and knowledge and dreams of owning her own restaurant some day.

My Honey & Mustard Roasted Chicken

By Marzia Shamsi

12417609_10156477202760473_4148424432538035127_n

Ingredients

6 pcs fresh chicken thighs

2 tablespoon olive oil

half a teaspoon of garlic paste

Half a lemon

1 teaspoon pepper

4 tablespoons of  honey,

1 tablespoon dijon mustard.

Directions:

Preheat roaster oven to 350°F.

Rinse chicken with cold water and pat dry.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine all ingredients.

Brush chicken with half of mixture.

Place on rack and put into the oven. Cook until you see meat turn a golden brown colour.

Brush with remaining glaze.

Continue to cook another 10 minutes.

Voila! it is ready to be served.

Experiment with accompaniments, this can be be served with salads, different kinds of infused rice. It is also a wholesome meal on its own.

 

About the Author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother of two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, she is a Canadian resident originally from India. Maria is a professional chef out of house but at home her first and the last name is Mom. A newbie blogger, Marzia loves sharing her thoughts and knowledge through  personal experiences and dreams to own her own restaurant soon.

Warm Spinach & Bell Pepper Salad (Serves 8)

By Marzia Shamsi

My Work

This is a super healthy and delicious salad, which can be served in many different ways.  You can even add onion, mushrooms, tomatoes and other favorite veggies of your choice. Beef bacon, turkey ham or smoked chicken salami are other nice additions.

Ingredients

Beef strips                        5 to 6

Baby Spinach               1kg

Red Pepper                  1

Green Pepper              1

Yellow Pepper             1

Corn oil                        1tbsp (just a drizzle)

Lemon Juice              1tsp

Dijon Mustard          1/2 tsp (Very little)

Salt & pepper

 

Mise En Place

1-Wash the spinach removing the stem, dry them on a kitchen towel or a vegetable spinner.

2-Cut the Bell Peppers into julienne (thinly sliced) removing seeds.

3-Cut the beef  strips into lardon (very small thinly sliced pieces) and saute in a pan until golden. Add bell peppers and saute for 2 minutes more.

4-Remove from the heat and toss the spinach into the mix. In a small bowl add juice of a lemon,Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and mix well.

5- Add the mixture to the salad, toss it all together & serve hot.

 

Calories 153
Calories from Fat 23%
Total Fat 2.6g 4%
Saturated Fat 0.4g 2%
Trans Fat 0.0gms
Cholesterol 24mg 6%
Sodium  31mg  1%
Potassium 190mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates  4.5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0.9g
Proteins 9.3gms

Read more:  Calories in Spinach Salad | Nutrition and Health Facts http://www.caloriecount.com/spinach-salad-recipe-r758#ixzz3rrcn35Az

About the Author:

Marzia Shamsi is a single mother of two lovely kids. Brought up in the UAE, a Canadian resident originally from India. A professional chef out of house while at home my first and the last name is Mom. An amateur blogger just started off very recently. Love sharing my thoughts & knowledge through my personal real life experiences. Dream is to own a restaurant soon.

Recipe of the Week: Butternut Squash Soup

By Rahila Ovais

 download

Try this wonderful and easy butternut squash recipe!

Ingredients:

1 medium sized butternut squash, cubed

Few sprigs of rosemary

1 small onion

1 medium carrot

3-4 celery stalks

One inch piece of ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg

 

Method:

1.       Toss the butternut squash cubes and rosemary sprigs with olive oil, some salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 degrees

2.       Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the sliced onions, carrots and celery until tender, then add the grated ginger

3.       Add a liter of water and let simmer

4.       Once the squash is roasted, remove from oven and add to the pot, let cook for another 20-30 minutes

5.       Add the freshly ground nutmeg, taste and adjust seasoning if desired

6.       Puree the soup in a blender in batches until smooth and return to pot to simmer

7.       Serve garnished with some roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary leaves with garlic toast or croutons.

 

 About the Author:

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

Recipe of the Week: Ciabbata Bread

By Marzia Rizvi

bread

 

The history of bread goes back at least 30,000 years. The first bread produced was probably cooked versions of a grain-paste, made from roasted and ground cereal grains and water, and may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. Descendants of these early flatbreads are still commonly made from various grains in many parts of the world, including Armenian lavashs and Iranian sangaks, taboons, Mexican tortilla, Indian bread chapati, roti and naan, Scottish oatcake, North American johnnycake, Jewish Matzo, Middle Eastern pita, and Ethiopian injera. Flat bread of these types also formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations with the Sumerians eating a type of barley flat cake, and the 12th century BC Egyptians being able to purchase a flat bread called ta from stalls in the village streets.

Today I’d like to share a recipe of one of my favorite bread the ciabatta bread that originates from Italy. This recipe is super easy to make and the best part about making your own bread is that you know what is going in it. If followed exactly the same way as the quantities given. It will turn out to be the best .If you are in a rush and you don’t have enough time for proofing (Wait for it to raise) I’d like to share a little trick with you all. Try to keep the dough at a stable temperature. We sometimes put a bowl of dough on top of the oven covered with a tea towel and on top of a folded towel. Also a preheated and switched off oven to about 30ºC (use a thermometer to measure the inside temperature as your dial on the oven will probably not be very helpful) will work great. Some people build their own proofing cabinet, using an old refrigerator or kitchen cabinet. With the help of a 40W or 100W light bulb on the bottom of the cabinet (warm air rises from bottom to top!) you can easily heat the inside of your cabinet. You can use a simple mechanical thermostat to switch the bulb on and off to control the temperature. Hope you’d enjoy this recipe as much as I do making & eating both. This bread makes amazing sandwiches or can be eaten on its own with simply butter.

Ingredients

Bread Flour   2 1/2 Cups

Fresh yeast     2 Tsp

Salt                  1 Tsp

Olive Oil       3/4 cup

Water             1 1/2 Cups

 

Procedures

Mixing

1-Warm the water to about 37 C. Dissolve the yeast in it.

2-Add the yeast to 1/2  cup of flour(At this point you only add yeast in 1/2 cups out of the 2 1/2 cups of flour and leave the remaining to be added later.

3-Mix the 1/2 cup of dough into a soft dough adding the entire water into the mix until the dough gets smooth.

4-Cover and leave at room temperature until it doubles it size

5-Stir down and add the rest of the ingredients for the dough. Beat for a few minutes to form a smooth dough, which will be very soft and sticky.

6-Cover and allow to ferment at room temperature until doubled in size

 Baking

1-Lightly oil your baking tray. Portion into 550 grams portion, shape into rough ovals, trying to avoid over handling the dough

2-Dust the top with extra flour. Proof at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume. Bake at 200 C for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

 

About the Author

Mirzia Rizvi is a single mother of two beautiful children. Lived in UAE for 25 years . Her passion  has been cooking since the age of 12. A graduate in Corporate Laws but decided to convert & become a chef . She is  now  a certified Chef from the School Of Culinary & Finishing Arts in Dubai along with a certification in food & safety from City & Guilds in the UK. Her dream is to own her own restaurant.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread Recipe

By: Khaula Mazhar

So it’s that time of year again when ( if you have kids) you somehow end up with pumpkins. I am the lucky recipient of three fine (and free woot!!) manageable sized pumpkins. They sat on my doorstep to welcome in the Fall and now they have come in. To be slaughtered, mashed and exposed to extremely high temperatures. For thus is the life of the noble orange pumpkin. To sacrifice itself for our gastronomical pursuits. Without further ado, I give you all le recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • One small pumpkin.
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 cups of raw sugar (demerara)
  • 3 ½ cups of whole wheat flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat – I do both ways and they both turn out fine)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ half teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ or 1 teaspoon depending on your taste ( I use half a teaspoon) ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger (dry)
  • Chopped walnuts ( as many as you like- the more the merrier!)

 

Steps: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 Fb11ee2b4-4ad5-4ded-99aa-9319506f8c4a

  2. Wash your adorable little pumpkin. Take a huge knife and cut it in half, clean out all the seeds. After you have dried your tears, stick your pumpkin halves facing down on a baking sheet or foil tray and bake them till very soft.

  3. I clean the seeds, sprinkle them with salt and bake those as well, they are good to munch on!

  4. When a knife goes in very easily you know your pumpkin is done. It usually takes about an hour or hour and a half, depending on the size of the pumpkin.

  5. Scoop out the pulp. Mash it all up well. This should make about two cups of pumpkin puree. You can use 1 ½ to 2 cups depending on your taste. Mine ended up just a little less than two cups so I dumped all that orange gooeyness right in.

  6. In a large bowl mix the puree with eggs, water, oil and sugar. In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients.

  7. Stir your dry ingredients into the pumpkin mix. Pour into two 9 X 3 inch greased loaf pans (or whatever size you have). You may need to use three loaf pans if your pans are small.

  8. Bake at 350 F for about an hour. Keep checking! When your knife comes out clean your glorious pumpkin bread is done. Enjoy!!

If you try this recipe, please be sure to share your thoughts, questions, or suggestions!

Displaying 12191687_1152865541409927_1106312983625061407_n.jpg

Displaying 12191687_1152865541409927_1106312983625061407_n.jpg

About the Author:

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Planning a Fun and Memorable Eid Party

By Nasreen Faiz

Eid Mubarak

 

The holy month of Ramadan is almost here and preparations are in full swing for many families. 

As an event planner, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to plan a variety of events, everything from weddings to aqeekas to corporate social gatherings. With each and every event, one thing has always been the main focus; guest experience. The same should hold true for an Eid party.
Ramadan 2015 isn’t here just yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start planning for Eid already! Here are a few pointers that will help in making any Eid party a fun and memorable one!

Decorate the Home

This goes without saying. There are tons of cute Eid specific decorations that you can splurge on to liven up your home/venue. If you’re in Toronto, SalamShop, Modah and Kaamilah Boutique are great places to start. If not, there are plenty of small but fiercely creative shops on Etsy selling Ramadan and Eid specific decor. For example try Path of Light Designs.

Wear Your Best Outfit

You’ve dressed up your home, now it’s time for you to get ready. Be sure to wear a new outfit, or if not new, something that is special to you. Whether you’re throwing an Eid party with a guest count of over 200, or a intimate dinner with just close family, asking your guests to where formal attire will certainly help in creating a festive atmosphere.

Secret Eidi

This is a great way to get everyone (regardless of age or gender) involved! Ever heard of Secret Santa? The concept is quite similar to that. Essentially, you’ll need to:
     - Set a budget between yourselves. It can be $10, $20, $100, whatever you are comfortable with.
     - Write down the name of each person who’ll be participating on a slip of paper.
     - Fold their names and put it in a bowl
     - Go around the room and have everyone pick a name. This is the person who’ll they’ll be getting a gift for.
     - When everyone arrives at the Eid party, ask all of the guests to put they gifts in a communal area.
     - Once everyone has arrived, you can hand out to each guest the present that has their name on it.
     - The guest first has to guess who got them, but after one guess the person reveals themselves
There is one other variation to this game that you can consider using.
If you wont be able to meet with the guests prior to the party to pick the name slips, you can simply ask each guest to bring a gift that is suitable for anyone to the party. Once all of the gifts are at the party, you can label them all with a number.
Write down the same numbers on a slip and have each person pick a number.
A third option is to use a site called Drawnames.com to draw names and even add a wishlist.

Date Cake

Dates are an essential when opening up a fast, so why not celebrate by making a date cake for Eid? Here is a link to one of my all time favourite recipes; Easy Date Cake. You can even add your own little twists to the recipe by adding ingredients such as toffee.If you don’t want to serve it as part of dessert, you can even cut the cake into tiny bite size squares and give them as party favours. A couple whose wedding I planned recently gave date cakes as a favour to their guests and they were a hit!

Make Gift Baskets

We should do our best to help those around us, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. This year, create a new family tradition by making small gift baskets for women and children in need. It’s a great way to give back to your community. You can create small gift baskets for kids by adding a few toys, clothes or (my personal favourite) halal gummies! Blossom & Bean sells them in packets, or you can contact them about buying in bulk if you plan on making quite a few. You can add Pashminas for women, chocolate, gift cards,  etc. Work on them during the month of Ramadan, and then deliver them to shelters on Eid.
What are some of your Eid traditions? How do you liven up your Eid Parties? Comment below and let me know! :)

 

About the Author

Nasreen Faiz is a professional wedding planner and designer at Rangeen Weddings and Events. Life should be rangeen (colourful) which is why her main focus is to always create luxurious designs within any given budget.

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden – III

By Sana Athar

Grow Your Own Vegetable Garden

This is the third and concluding part of our Gardening series and we hope that it may have helped you find your green thumb. Here are some more ‘greens’ you can grow and enjoy fresh right from your own garden!

Radish

Radishes are a hardy, cool-season vegetable that can produce many crops each season due toits rapid days to maturity. Radishes can be planted in both the spring and the fall, but growingshould be suspended in the warmer months. They are a very easy vegetable to grow.Direct sow seeds in the soil. Radishes need sun. If they are planted in too much shade—or even where neighbouring vegetable plants shade them—they put all their energy into producinglarger leaves. Plant consecutively every two weeks or so while weather is still cool for a continuous harvest ofradishes. Plan on a fall planting. You can plant radishes later than any other root crop in latesummer or early fall and still get a harvest.Radishes require well-drained soil with consistent moisture.Radishes will be ready to harvest quite rapidly, as three weeks after planting for some varieties.Do not leave in the ground long after mature stage, their condition will deteriorate quickly.

Spinach

This super-cold-hardy vegetable is a tender crop that can be planted in very early spring as wellas fall and winter.Although seedlings can be propagated indoors, it is not recommended as seedlings are difficultto transplant. Spring plantings can be made as soon as the soil can be properly worked. It’s important to seed as soon as you can to give spinach the required 6 weeks of cool weather from seeding to harvest.Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. Successive plantings should bemade every couple weeks during early spring.Water the new plants well in the spring. Keep soil moist with mulching. Water regularly. Spinach can tolerate the cold; it can survive a frost and temps down to 15ºF (-9C).Keep an eye on your plants. Harvest when leaves reach desired size. Don’t wait too long toharvest, or wait for larger leaves; bitterness will set in quickly after maturity.The whole plant can be harvested at once, and cut at the base, or leaves may be picked offplants one layer at a time, giving inner layers more time to develop.

Tomato

Tomatoes are America’s favourite garden vegetable (fruit). This vine plant is fairly easy to growand will produce a bumper crop with proper care.If you’re planting seeds , you’ll want to start your seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the averagelast spring frost date. Select a site with full sun and well-drained soil. It is VERY important thatyour site receives at least 6 hours of sun. Transplant after last spring frost when the soil is warm.Water well to reduce shock to the roots. Water generously for the first few days. Water wellthroughout growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. Keep wateringconsistent!

Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. If any fall off before they appear ripe,place them in a paper bag with the stem up and store them in a cool, dark place.Never place tomatoes on a sunny windowsill to ripen; they may rot before they are ripe!The perfect tomato for picking will be firm and very red in color, regardless of size, with perhaps some yellow remaining around the stem. A ripe tomato will be only slightly soft.If your tomato plant still has fruit when the first hard frost threatens, pull up the entire plant andhang it upside down in the basement or garage. Pick tomatoes as they redden.Never refrigerate fresh tomatoes. Doing so spoils the flavor and texture that make up thatgarden tomato taste.

Squash & Zucchini

Squash is a seasonal vegetable. It is very susceptible to frost and heat damage, but with proper care it will produce a bumper crop with very few plants. There are many varieties of summer squash to choose from, including zucchini.If you wish to start seeds indoors due to a short gardening season, sow 2 to 4 weeks before lastspring frost in peat pots. However, we recommend direct-seeding for squash because they donot always transplant well. If you do transplant, be very gentle with the roots.The outside planting site needs to receive full sun; the soil should be moist and well-drained, but not soggy.For all type of squash, frequent and consistent watering is recommended. Water most diligently when fruits form and throughout their growth period. Water deeply once a week, applying atleast one inch of water. Do not water shallowly; the soil needs to be moist 4 inches down.Harvest summer squash (zucchini) when small and tender for best flavour. Most varieties average 60 days to maturity, and are ready as soon as a week after flowering. Check plants everyday for new produce. Cut the gourds off the vine rather than breaking them off.

Enjoy fresh harvests and remember to share your gardening experiences with us! We look forward to hearing from you!

About the author:

Sana Athar is a stay at home mom to her three little angels. She lives in Milton, Ontario where she works on her passions: gardening and cooking for family and friends. An MBBS from Karachi, Pakistan, Sana is currently working on obtaining her license to be able to practice medicine in Canada.