I may not be able to travel anywhere right now but I can dream about it. And I have. Perhaps because of the extreme cold snaps Toronto’s been having, I’ve been dreaming of the tropics. Or possibly it’s because it feels like forever since I’ve ambled along a sandy beach caressed by warm, salty ocean breezes.
Like dreams, food can also magically transport us to other places. In this spirit, I have created my Island Dreams Menu. I invite you to turn up the tunes (reggae? calypso? salsa? soca?) and the heat. Not just the heat in your home but spicy heat.
I’ve kept the recipes fairly mild as not everyone is a chili-head like I am. But if you are, now’s the time to shake it up with your favourite hot sauce. I have several. My brother added to my collection by giving me this one as a stocking stuffer: the mango and habanero-based Hotel Oscar Tango Sauce. Get it? HOT sauce. Hotel Oscar Tango spells out HOT in the phonetic alphabet. As airline pilots use the phonetic alphabet extensively, it seemed ideal for this menu inspired by virtual travel. Especially as it is locally made here in Toronto by Damien. As Damien’s website says, “Blandness is cold, cold, treachery. Step out of the cold forever with Damien.”
I started the menu off with a mocktail for those of you joining me in forgoing alcohol this month. Even if you didn’t Ring in the New Year with Dry January, it is never too late to take a trip down sobriety lane and enjoy the benefits of taking a break from alcohol.
Island Dreams Menu
Mocktail: Virgin Grapefruit Margarita (if you are on medication that requires you to forgo grapefruit, you could make it with guava or another tropical juice instead, just dial back the maple syrup)
Main: Citrus Coconut White Fish (this quick dish packs a flavour punch, especially if you kick it up a notch with hot sauce and fresh ginger)
Side: Swiss Chard, Lentil & Rice Bowl (if you can find callaloo greens, use them for a truly tropical vibe; collard greens, zippy mustard greens and kale also work well)
Dessert: Mango Fruit Salad (this will remind you how simply delicious fresh fruit is; I make mine with lime, a trick I learned with the super-juicy limes of Bluff Beach Retreat, back when I could “Escape To Paradise”)
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A few featured foods …
Doesn’t sound very tropical, does it? Quite right. It isn’t. In this menu it’s a stand-in for callaloo, a staple in the Jamaican diet but not widely found at North American grocers.
Like callaloo, Swiss chard is a leafy green veggie, the virtues of which I extol regularly. I dine on them daily. Just one cup of cooked chard exceeds your daily requirement for vitamins A and K and provide more than half your vitamin C needs. To make the meal even more colourful, choose rainbow chard!
Mango definitely is tropical. And one cup of fresh mango will provide the other half (and more) of your daily vitamin C needs. As vitamin C helps your immune system function optimally, that’s a good thing!
Mango for dessert has an added benefit. Studies show that fresh mango assists digestion and regularity. This is likely due to its content of digestive enzymes, fibre and water. But mango was more effective than a supplement with the same fibre content. One hypothesis is that eating mango may increase certain fatty acids and gastric secretions that improve digestion. Yummy for your tummy indeed!
Cooking your own food is the single most impactful step you can take to improve your health and energy!
I hope you enjoy my Island Dreams Menu. Sign up here to receive the download link for this latest Menu of the Month. And if you want to cook more of your own food but don’t know what to make or have the time to organize your own menus and shopping lists, The Nutritional Reset offers a meal planning service. It makes preparing tasty, nutritious meals a snap. Click here to find out more.