Mary’s Memo – March 17th


Definitions of healthy eating have changed quite dramatically since Judith Finlayson’s The Healthy Slow Cooker was published in 2006. In those days, it was one size fits all …. low fat, low calorie and no saturated fat. Since then there’s been a shift in thinking. Many leading experts now feel that modern diseases are directly associated with the consumption of wheat and advocate reducing carbohydrates. Another significant development is that the evidence against saturated fat has been gradually diminishing.

All the recipes are delicious, nutrient-dense and have a balanced approach that will suit a wide variety of people. An incredibly healthy meal prepared in a slow cooker is an unbeatable combination! Judith Finlayson is a bestselling author whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks. She lives in Toronto, ON. Since old man winter insists on hanging around even though spring is tapping on the door, we’re featuring the author’s New World Leek and Potato Soup.


• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 4 large leeks, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned
and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
• 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
• 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 potatoes)
• 2 green bell peppers, diced
• 1 long chile pepper, minced (optional)
• Sea salt (optional)
• 1/2 cup whipping cream or alternative (I always replace heavy cream with evaporated milk)
• Roasted red pepper strips (optional)
• Finely snipped chives

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and peppercorns and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Transfer to 5 or 6-quart slow cooker stoneware. Add vegetable stock. Add sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or 3 hours on HIGH, until potatoes are tender. Add green pepper and chile pepper if using. Cover and cook on high for 20 to 30 minutes until peppers are tender. Season to taste with sea salt if using. Working in batches, puree soup in a food processor or blender. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree in the stoneware. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with cream and garnish with roasted red pepper strips, if using, and chives.
Source: The Healthy Slow Cooker, 2nd E dition by Judith Finlayson (, March 2014, $24.95).


Some of us love Brussels sprouts and this recipe from a recent Penszeys catalog caught my attention while I was on vacation. The recipe is “annual Christmas sheet” quality but too good to save until then!


• 1 pound Brussels sprouts
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon thyme
• Juice of half lemon

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Clean sprouts, peeling off loose, outer leaves until you have tightly wrapped leaves clinging to the head. Cut off stems and slice in half. Reserving lemon juice, whisk olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs together. Toss sprout halves in mixture until all are coated. Arrange cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes (mine were tender at 20 minutes). Serve immediately after squeezing with lemon juice. Recipe makes 4 servings.
Source: Adapted from a Penzeys recipe.


For our youngest son, Chris, baked custard was his favorite dessert and it wasn’t above me to pair it with a vegetable he didn’t like so he’d eat the required spoonful beforehand. Today’s child psychologists would never approve of my strategy but it worked for me. I used the recipe in the first Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook, published in 1941 and in its 10th printing at the time I gave it to Mother in 1949. The old cookbook is in my possession now and when I make baked custard I remember how much Chris liked it!


• 3 slightly beaten eggs
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups milk, scalded (whatever kind you have in the fridge)
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine eggs, sugar and salt; slowly add milk and vanilla extract. Pour into 6-ounce custard cups; sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in pan of hot water in preheated 325ºF oven until mixture doesn’t adhere to knife, about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens recipe.

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