So I have a new kitchen toy, the T-fal OptiGrill™ Smart. It’s an indoor grill with sensors that measure the thickness and internal temperature of the food being cooked. It cooks the food to the temperature you want – rare, medium or well done –and notifies you of each stage through beeps and a light that changes colour. It is also equipped with Bluetooth technology, so you can operate it from your phone or tablet.

OptiGrill Smart

It has six settings on its dashboard — burgers, chicken, panini, sausage, red meat and fish — plus settings for seafood and bacon that you can enable from your Bluetooth device. It will also cook frozen food. I was a little skeptical, but it does work! So far I have cooked steak (perfect medium rare), chicken kebabs (juicy), lamb chops, fish, vegetables and panini and all have been great. It’s also fast and easy to clean. It’s not very big so cooking large batches is a bit tricky. But if you don’t have a barbecue and like grilled food, it’s a pretty good option.

This tilapia dish is from OptiGrill’s online recipes. The grill preheated in 5 minutes and cooked the fish perfectly in 8 minutes. To make this without the grill, just bake or broil the fish in the oven until it is done.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Eden Organic red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar to avoid sulfites. Use fresh lemon juice, as the concentrates contain additives. I used President’s Choice garlic-stuffed olives.

Brush half of parsley, vinegar, oil, lemon juice and garlic mixture over fish

Add olives, tomatoes and lemon zest to the rest of the mixture

Tilapia with tomato olive relish


¼ cup (50 ml) finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp (15 ml) white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, minced

¾ tsp (4 ml) each salt and pepper, divided

4 tilapia fillets, about 5 oz (150 g) each

1 cup (250 ml) seeded and finely chopped tomato

¼ cup (50 ml) finely chopped green olives

1 tsp (5 ml) finely grated lemon zest


Whisk the parsley with the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar and garlic; divide into two equal portions.

Sprinkle ½ tsp (2 ml) each salt and pepper on both sides of the fillets. Brush one portion of the parsley mixture over the fillets. Stir the remaining parsley mixture with the tomato, olives, lemon zest and remaining salt and pepper; set aside.

Preheat oven or indoor grill. On OptiGrill, cook until the indicator light has changed to orange. In oven, cook the fish until cooked through. Serve the fillets with the tomato mixture on the side. Serves 4.

From OptiGrill Recipes

This side dish from Lynn Crawford’s new cookbook Farm to Chef is colourful and satisfying. Cooked quinoa is topped with sautéed shallot and Brussels sprouts leaves and then garnished with grated pecorino cheese. Healthy and delicious!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the butter and cheese do not contain colour.

While quinoa is standing, sauté shallots

Add Brussels sprout leaves and cook until leaves are barely wilted

Brussels sprout leaves with pecorino and quinoa


1 cup (250 ml) uncooked quinoa

2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

2 cups (500 ml) water or stock

½ tsp (2 ml) kosher salt

2 tbsp (30 ml) unsalted butter

1 shallot, julienned lengthwise

2 cups (500 ml) Brussels sprout leaves

1 tsp (5 ml) chopped thyme leaves

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

¼ cup (60 ml) finely grated pecorino cheese


Place quinoa in fine-mesh sieve. Rinse thoroughly with cool water for about 2 minutes, then drain well.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add drained quinoa and cook, stirring often, for about 1 minute to let the water evaporate and toast the quinoa. Stir in water or stock and salt and bring to a rolling boil. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 more minutes. Remove the lid and fluff quinoa gently with a fork. If any liquid remains in the bottom of the pan or if the quinoa is still a bit crunchy, return the pot to low heat and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Set aside and keep warm.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallot and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add Brussels sprout leaves and thyme and cook until leaves are barely wilted, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon quinoa into a serving bowl, then top with Brussels sprout mixture and pecorino. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

From Farm to Table by Chef Lynn Crawford

This delicious recipe from the New York Times is a cinch to make and is dinner party-worthy. Pickle red onion in vinegar and honey and marinate the chicken in salt, garlic, coriander and black pepper for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toss sweet potato and a sweet pepper with oil, fresh sage and spices. Place the chicken and veggies on a baking sheet and roast until done. Garnish with the pickled onion and cilantro and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Marinate chicken thighs for 30 minutes

Pickle red onion in vinegar and honey

Place chicken and veggies on sheet pan

Roast until chicken is done and veggies are tender

Garnish with pickled onion and cilantro


3 tablespoons (45 ml) apple cider vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) honey

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) kosher salt, more as needed

1 to 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground coriander

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds (900 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 6 thighs)

2 ½ tablespoons (37.5 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces (340 g) sweet potato (1 large), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.27 cm) cubes

1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 ½ tablespoons (22.5 ml) finely chopped fresh sage

¾ teaspoon (3 ml) sweet paprika

⅛ teaspoon (0.5 ml) cayenne

⅛ teaspoon (0.5 ml) ground allspice

Cilantro leaves, for serving


In a small, shallow bowl, mix together vinegar and honey. Mix in half the red onion and a pinch of salt and set aside for garnish, tossing the mixture occasionally as the chicken cooks.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, garlic, coriander and black pepper. Add chicken to bowl and rub the mixture all over it. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). In a large bowl, toss together 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil, sweet potato, pepper, remaining onion, sage, remaining ½ (2.5 ml) teaspoon salt, paprika, cayenne, and allspice. Spread vegetables out on a rimmed baking sheet.

Add remaining ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) oil to marinated chicken and turn to coat. Place chicken pieces, skin-side up, among the vegetables, making sure chicken is surrounded by them, but not on top of them. Chicken should rest directly on the baking sheet.

Roast for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and raise heat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Use a wide spatula to flip vegetables over (but not chicken). Drizzle chicken (but not vegetables) with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) liquid from the onion-vinegar mixture. Roast until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

To serve, top chicken and vegetables with a spoonful of onion-vinegar mixture and plenty of cilantro leaves. Serves 4.

From the New York Times

This recipe for turkey meatballs from Eat Yourself Skinny is easy to make, spicy and has fewer than 300 calories per serving. You can serve these with rice and veggies or place one or two meatballs on a Boston lettuce leaf, top with red pepper strips and chopped cilantro and eat like a wrap.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used 4C panko breadcrumbs, Simply Natural Organic Sriracha, tamari (instead of soy sauce), Marukan rice vinegar and President’s Choice Pure Sesame Oil, which are all additive-free.

Make meatballs and bake until cooked through

Meanwhile, make the spicy sauce

Honey Sriracha Glazed Meatballs


2 lb. (1 kg) lean ground turkey

1 cup (250 ml) whole wheat panko breadcrumbs

2 eggs

¼ cup (60 ml) green onions, chopped

½ tsp. (2 ml) garlic powder

½ tsp. (2 ml) salt

½ tsp. (2 ml) black pepper

For the sauce

¼ cup (60 ml) Sriracha

3 Tbsp (45 ml) reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 Tbsp (45 ml) rice vinegar

3 Tbsp (45 ml) honey

1 Tbsp (15 ml) grated fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. (2 ml) toasted sesame oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix together turkey, breadcrumbs, eggs, green onions, garlic powder and salt/pepper until well combined. Shape mixture into 1½-inch balls/3.8 cm (you’ll make roughly 40 balls) and place spaced apart on prepared baking sheets lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking continuously. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes (the sauce will start to thicken) then toss with the meatballs.

Serve immediately over brown rice and top with green onions and a few sesame seeds. Serves 8.

From Eat Yourself Skinny

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, try this sausage and squash with farro, a form of wheat that is nutty and slightly chewy when cooked. Sauté the squash, toast the farro, add fresh sage and stock and then bake until the farro is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, cook the sausage. When the farro is ready, add the cream and half the cheese. Serve topped with the sausage, cheese and sage.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Imagine brand chicken stock, which is additive-free, and President’s Choice Free From sausages, which are preservative-free. Genuine Parmesan contains no additives or colour.

Farro is a type of wheat that is nutty and chewy when cooked

Sauté the squash

Toast the farro

Bake the squash and farro in stock

Cook the sausage on top of the stove until cooked through

Serve the farro topped with sausage, cheese and sage


3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, divided

1 small butternut squash (about 2 lb/1 kg), peeled and cut into ¾-in/1.9 cm cubes (about 4 cups/ 1L)

2 cups (500 ml) farro

1 teaspoon (5 ml) chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

4 cups (1 L) unsalted chicken stock

1 teaspoon (5 ml) kosher salt

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) reshly ground black pepper

½ pound (250 g) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

⅓ cup (75 ml) heavy cream

½ cup (125 ml/about 2 oz/57 g) grated Parmesan, divided


Preheat oven to 300ºF (150ºC).

Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil in a Dutch oven or wide, heavy pot with lid over medium-high. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and farro to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until farro is toasted, about 5 minutes. Add sage and cook 30 seconds more.

Return squash to pot; add stock, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until farro is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Remove farro from oven and stir in cream and half the cheese. Serve topped with sausage and remaining cheese; garnish with sage.

From Real Simple

This recipe from Kitchn tastes as good as it looks. Toss thinly sliced potatoes in garlic, salt and pepper and arrange them into overlapping rows to create four rectangles. Roast the potato “rafts” for a half hour, then top with the fish, butter, lemon, thyme and capers. Roast until the fish is cooked through and then serve. Healthy (about 330 calories per serving) and delicious!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use a brand of butter than contains only cream and has no colour added. I use Unico capers, which are additive-free.

Arrange potato slices into rectangles and roast

Place fish, butter, lemon, capers and thyme on top of potatoes and cook until fish is done

The fish is flavoured by the butter, thyme, capers and lemon as it cooks

Lemon-herb sole on crispy potato rafts


1½ pounds (680 g) russet potatoes (about 2 medium), unpeeled and scrubbed, sliced into ¼-inch-thick (0.64 cm) rounds

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced (roughly 1 tablespoon/15 ml)

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) kosher salt

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless sole fillets or other firm white fish (5 ounces/142 g each and 1 to 1½ inches/2.5 cm to 3.8 cm thick)

4 tablespoons/60 ml unsalted butter

1 lemon, thinly sliced

8 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, drained


Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C) with a rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper until thoroughly coated.

Assemble 4 potato rafts by overlapping potato slices on the prepared pan in rectangular mounds. Each raft should consist of 3 or 4 shingled rows and be roughly 4 x 6 inches (10 x 15 cm); use 3 or 4 slices of potato per row.

Roast the potatoes, rotating the pan halfway through, until golden brown and beginning to crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Blot the fish fillets dry with a paper towel. Place one, skin-side down, centered on top of each potato raft. Top each piece of fish with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) butter, 2 lemon slices, and 2 sprigs thyme. Scatter the capers atop the fish and around the pan.

Return the pan to the oven and roast until the fish is flaky and opaque, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the potato rafts and accompanying fillets to individual plates, ideally with a big spatula. Serve hot. Serves 4.

From Kitchn

I received a subscription to the New York Times cooking website for my birthday and I’m enjoying its many offerings, including this dish of rice noodles topped with spicy pork and herbs. Cook the noodles, drain and rinse, make the dressing and cook the pork, aromatics and vegetables. To serve, top the noodles with the dressing, pork vegetables, herbs, nuts and radishes. If you can’t find black vinegar, use balsamic instead. Instead of chile oil, I used canola and addes some hot pepper flakes.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Marukan rice vinegar, a balsamic vinegar with no sulfites added and tamari instead of soy sauce.

Cook rice noodles, rinse in cold water and drain

Prepare herbs, nuts and radishes

Prepare dressing

Cook the ground pork

Rice Noodles with Spicy Pork and Herbs


1 pound (454 g) thin, round rice noodles

2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) soy sauce

1 tablespoon (15 ml) black vinegar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chile oil

1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar

1 tablespoon (15 ml) canola or other neutral oil

½ pound (227 g) ground pork

1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece ginger, chopped

2 scallions, light parts chopped, green parts reserved for garnish

1 tablespoon (15 ml) yacai (Sichuan preserved vegetables, optional)

Handful of herbs like mint, basil and cilantro leaves, washed

¼ cup (60 ml) salted, roasted peanuts, chopped

4 radishes, sliced (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook noodles according to instructions. Drain noodles while running under cold water, until they are cool to the touch. Set aside. Mix dressing by whisking rice vinegar, soy sauce, black vinegar, chile oil and sugar until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Cook the pork topping: Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat, and add ground pork and salt. Pan-fry, breaking meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until no pink parts and no liquid remain in the pan, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and scallion whites, and stir occasionally until the raw smell has disappeared and the meat is starting to brown in places, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables, if using, along with a tablespoon of water, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more, or until mixture is darkened and thick. Set aside.

When you’re ready to serve, divide cool, drained noodles into four individual bowls, and top each with a tablespoon of vinegar dressing followed by a pile of ground pork, herbs, peanuts and radishes, to taste. Serve with any remaining garnish, and additional chile oil and chile-oil solids, on the side. Serves 4.

From the New York Times

This tasty dish from Food and Wine takes about 20 minutes to make. Sear the fish in butter and then transfer to the oven to roast. Meanwhile, fry bread cubes and then add lemon juice, wine, capers and herbs. Serve the sauce over the fish and dinner is ready!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the butter does not contain colour and the bread is preservative-free. Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and a wine with a sulfite level of less than 10 parts per million. I use wine from Frogpond Farm organic winery. Unico capers are additive-free.

Sear fish

Fry croutons and then add lemon juice, wine, capers and herbs

Fish with Capers and Croutons


¾ cup (180 ml) unsalted butter, divided

1 teaspoon (15 ml) olive oil

4 skinless fish fillets, such as cod, halibut, tilapia or skate (about 2 pounds/1 kg total)

Kosher salt

White pepper

½ pound (250 g) crusty bread, cut into ½-inch (1.25 cm) cubes (about 3 cups/750 ml)

3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons (30 ml) dry white wine

¼ cup (60 ml) salt-packed capers, rinsed well and drained

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped parsley

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped tarragon


Preheat the oven to 475° F (245° C). In a large ovenproof skillet, melt ¼ cup (60 ml) of the butter with the oil. Season the fish with salt and pepper, add to the skillet, and cook over moderate heat until bottom is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish, transfer the skillet to the oven, and roast until the fish is just white throughout, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to plates and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, melt the remaining ½ cup (125 ml) of butter. Add the bread cubes and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and wine, and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in the capers and herbs. Spoon the mixture over the fish and serve. Serves 4.

From Food and Wine

This is another great recipe from Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. Marinate shrimp in a mixture of lime juice and Sriracha, sauté aromatics, add asparagus and when it is tender add the shrimp and marinade and quickly stir fry. A quick and tasty weeknight supper!

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for shrimp with no additives and use fresh lime juice. I use Simply Natural Organic Sriracha, which is all-natural.

Marinate shrimp in lime juice and Sriracha

Sauté aromatics and then add asparagus

Add shrimp and marinade and quickly stir fry

Sriracha Shrimp


1 lb (454 g) shrimp, shelled and deveined

3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) lime juice – squeeze 1 lime

3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) Sriracha

4 tablespoons (60 ml) olive oil

1 (small) onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon (15 ml) ginger, chopped

1 lb (454 g) asparagus, peel stems and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces, discarding thick, hard ends of the stalks

Cooked rice


Marinate shrimp in the lime juice and the Sriracha for 15-30 minutes.

Heat oil in large frying pan. Sauté onion, garlic, ginger until soft and beginning to brown – about 5 minutes. Add asparagus. Cook for about 5 minutes until it begins to brown. Cover pan and turn off heat until asparagus softens. This step might not be necessary if the asparagus is very thin. When you are ready to eat, turn up heat and add shrimp with the marinade. Cook until shrimp is barely done, about 3-4 minutes. It is crucial to almost undercook the shrimp, so that the shrimp doesn’t get tough.

Divide rice into bowls or plates. Spoon shrimp and asparagus mixture over the rice. Serve with extra Sriracha and lime wedges. Serves 5.

From My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life

Grain bowls — any type of grain topped by a variety of ingredients — are a great way to bring healthy nutrition and variety into your diet. This recipe from Chatelaine starts with a base of rice, topped with roasted chicken and broccoli, greens, orange slices, nuts and a spicy hoisin drizzle.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I have never been able to find all-natural hoisin sauce, so I make my own. The recipe is below. Check the canola oil to make sure it is additive-free. All-natural sriracha is also hard to find, but

Simply Natural Organic makes a delicious additive-free red sriracha.

Marinate chicken

Place broccoli and chicken on sheet pan and roast

Place cooked rice in bowl and top with chicken, broccoli, greens, orange slices, nuts and sauce


1 cup (250 ml) quick-cooking brown rice

2 oranges, divided

3 tbsp (45 ml) hoisin (see recipe below)

3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil, divided

1 ½ tbsp (22 ml) sriracha

1 tsp (5 ml) alt

4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

3 cups (750 ml) broccoli florets

2 green onions, chopped

1 cup (250 ml) microgreens

½ cup (125 ml) toasted cashews, chopped

Hoisin Sauce

4 tbsp (60 ml) soy sauce

2 tbsp (30 ml) peanut butter

1 tbsp (15 ml) honey or molasses

2 tsp (10 ml) white vinegar

Pinch garlic powder

2 tsp sesame seed oil

1 tsp (5 ml) Chinese-style hot sauce

Pinch pepper


Mix hoisin ingredients together.

Cook rice following package directions. Let stand 10 min, then fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 400F (204C) . Line a baking sheet with foil.

Whisk juice of 1 orange, hoisin, 2 tbsp (30 ml) oil, sriracha and salt in a bowl. Reserve 1/3 (75 ml) cup. Add chicken to bowl and stir until coated. Let stand 10 min.

Place chicken on 1 side of prepared sheet. Drizzle with marinade. Toss broccoli with remaining 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil on other side of sheet. Roast until chicken is cooked through and broccoli starts to brown at edges, about 15 min.

Cut off top and bottom of remaining orange. Cut off peel and white pith, so flesh is showing. Slice into rounds, then halve. Slice chicken. Stir green onions into rice and divide among bowls. Top with chicken, broccoli, orange, microgreens and cashews. Drizzle with reserved 1/3 cup (75 ml) marinade and any pan juices. Serves 4.

From Chatelaine

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