Saturday, June 27, 2009
There really is nothing better than produce shopping in your own backyard!
I have always been able to maintain a simple garden consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and green beans. By maintain, I mean drop the seeds and hope for the best! This year I decided to take it to the next level. Because I have a the farthest thing from a green thumb, I had to hire in help for this task, an organic farmer. He came at the beginning of the season to get my soil turned over with organic goodness and now he comes by to plant things in their proper places - because now I know there is a proper place for every little seedling and they can't just go anywhere.
I am also learning that there is a timeline involved with everything, and that all things will grow in cycles. I am also learning that little critters, bugs and animals like to feast on my organic buffet in the backyard - I guess it's because it all just tastes so good! But honestly it's not fair that they get to dive in before I do - and they usually eat the best parts! But there are ways around this - like building a mesh mini green house to keep the animals away. As for the little critters, cayenne pepper in a water bottle seems to help a bit. However, I am open to more suggestions, if you know of some other ways I can get the bugs off my chard, kale and lettuce - please let me know and leave a comment!!
So far this season I have been seduced with radishes, spinach and some other greens (which I am going to have all season) this includes everything from salad greens to kale, chard, collards, broccoli and arugula. I also have some berry bushes planted that will yield strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries. In the later part of the summer I will have carrots, beets, fennel onions - I will take more pictures at that time. I also have a beautiful little box of fresh herbs like oregano, lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary.
So if you are considering having your own garden please go through with it, hire some help or at the very least just get some seeds or herb plants and plant them yourself. You can usually get a hold of this stuff at your local farmers market. There is nothing better than walking out to your own "garden of eatin' and picking your own produce.
Having my own organic garden has made my weekly produce shopping extremely easy. It also provides me with enough veggies for my morning juice - without any worry that I am running out of greens. But the best part is that I get to use some of this wonderful organic and very local produce in my cooking classes. The participants really enjoy this as there is nothing better than eating salad that is picked that same day. If you want to experience this, then you are just going to have to come to a class to find out!
Veggie Delight Salad:
2-3 handfuls fresh arugula, baby greens or spinach
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1/4 of a beet, shredded
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/2 cup olive oil or Vega's EFA Oil Blend
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Well I am pretty much on that path already...to make a change that is. The focus of my business and my whole philosophy is stemmed around wholesome and organic foods. Not only the foods themselves but the impact that these foods have on our everyday health and well being. So to reinforce my immense passion for food, I went to go see an advanced screening of FOOD INC. last night. I was invited to join Lisa Borden of Borden Communications to view this life changing film about the industry of food. You will also have a chance to go and see it this Friday June 19th in select theaters around Toronto.
I was all excited and expecting to run into some other nutrition junkies and other health focused/ like minded people- but instead I was shocked to see that the theater was filled with people who most likely didn't know anything about the film - which was actually a good thing in the end. I was even more shocked at the fact that more than 80% of these individuals were stocked up on bags full of popcorn of the worst kind (made with genetically modified corn, loaded with hydrogenated oils and butter and low quality salt), liquid sugared sodas and candy. Well maybe I am not that shocked, as this is common. People go to the movies and order popcorn...right?
Well if we were to look that majority of people, whether it is in Toronto or North America for that matter - this is the mainstream, and these are the individuals who need to make these changes and understand where their packaged, processed and fast food is actually coming from. For that reason alone it should not have been a theater full of people like me who are already converted and sold on the power and healing potential of whole foods!
So of course, I felt sorry for anyone who was snacking on popcorn and candy during the movie - as they would have learned very quickly where their buttery kernels actually came from and that High Fructose Corn Syrup was the basis of their coca-cola and junior mints. This extracted and concentrated syrup made from corn as you will learn from the film leads to all kinds problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
On a more positive note, I truly hope that these individuals where awakened, enlightened or at least ready to make some changes in their daily food choices. Honestly after seeing this film I don't know how you couldn't. Whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan. There is something for everyone to learn.
Even though I consider myself fairly informed of most of the issues in the modern food industry, I have to say that I my eyes were even opened to some of the disturbing political issues around food and the meat industry. This of course left me frustrated, depressed and angry at all the information that was presented in this film.
To be honest though -all of this actually fueled my fire and confirmed my passion to continue to inspire individuals to make healthy choices around food. Through my ongoing workshops, seminars, cooking classes and of course my blog - I strive to educate people on how they can make changes everyday by simply making healthier and more natural food choices. These changes can be as simple as buying more organic fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy or adopting a more plant based diet and of course buying local, buying seasonal, or planting your own garden...as you will see, these are some of the tips at the end of the film! Go and find out for yourself what FOOD INC is all about. If you can't get to it...wait, as I will be hosting a screening and a discussion in the fall!
In the meantime you can TAKE PART and start to make a change!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
How does one bring a Rainbow into their kitchen you ask - all you need is a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables - and there you have it - a rainbow in your kitchen!
This week's "Taste the Rainbow" cooking class was themed around the colourful veggies. I couldn't help but inspire others to learn how to make meals that are bursting full of vibrant colour and of course delicious flavours - as this is how I eat on daily basis.
We made so many colourfully healthy recipes that even a child who believes that the only rainbow in your kitchen comes from a box of lucky charms - would have been impressed!
The good news is that with colourful foods - from nature and not a box - you are not only getting something that is beautiful on your plate - but you are loading your body up full of antioxidants, vitamins and essential minerals. In each colour category: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple - you are providing your body with separate and very different elements of something called phytochemicals. These little guys help to protect us from diseases and keep our immune system strong. So make sure to EAT YOUR COLOURS!
Some highLIGHTS on the menu in last nights class included- mango rice paper wraps, cabbage, carrot, beet slaw, sauteed swiss chard, wild rice with oranges and cranberries and a wild blueberry tart (with a gluten free crust of course!)
So tonight - to keep up with the rainbow theme my good friend came over a for a night of creation. We do this every once in a while - get together and cook up a storm of delicious and of course colourful recipes. Just because it was rainy outside didn't mean that we had to settle for anything less than a delicious meal - even without the sunshine we brought a rainbow into the kitchen. In fact we even called our meal the "veggie-Q" our version of a typical BBQ - rain or shine the rainbow was on our plates!
Since the slaw salad was such a hit last night - I really wanted to make it again - and what is a "veggie- Q" without a good slaw salad? Of course there had to be burgers and fries thrown into the mix - so we made flax - almond burgers, served in a collard wrap with a pesto made from fresh basil and arugula from my garden, and yam "fries" baked in the oven on a low temp with coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, garlic and oregano (Inspired by Brenden Brazier's Thrive Diet).
For a sweet and colourful ending to this meal, what better than a bowl of ice cream - yup you got it - vegan creamy goodness made from coconut milk, banana's and mango and topped with sprouted buckwheat, blueberry compote and cacao nibs - can you say YUM!!!
Once again - I leave it to you to get creative and have fun. There are a whole slew of colourful veggies out there - take advantage of them, have some fun and bring the rainbow into your kitchen this summer with this colourful recipe!
Carrot, Cabbage and Beet Slaw
1 savoy or nappa cabbage, shredded
2 ½ cups grated beet (approx. 2 beets)
2 cups grated carrots (approx. 4 carrots)
1 fennel (optional)
1 green apple (optional)
5 Radishes (optional)
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3- ¼ cup agave syrup
1 ½ Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1. Shred beets and carrots (fennel and apple) using a food processor
2. Chop cabbage into long shreds or shred in food processor.
3. Mix the dressing and toss over cabbage mixture and let it sit and marinate for 1 hour before serving.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
So it's after 10 pm...and I should be settling down, getting ready for bed - but I can't. Not because I am stressed, not because I have so much to do, but because I am fueled full of living and raw foods - as I just finished (not more than a half hour ago) my Raw and Ripe Cooking Class (although no "cooking" actually took place).
Since it was a Raw class, we just prepared all the meals. Delicious meals created from recipes that are based on sprouted nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, sea vegetables, pressed oils and a few other little goodies like dates, sea salt, tamari, cider vinegar etc...
But the reason why I am so awake and feeling so alive right now...is because these foods are living. Living means they are full of enzymes. When you soak and sprout nuts and seeds, beans etc.. you are activating all of it's nutritive potential - so in your body it can't help but do the same thing! Also when you eat raw fruits and veggies which are also full of enzymes -your body has to do less work to break them down, leaving bundles of energy readily available. I have to admit, I also get a bit of an adrenaline rush after all of my classes - they are so much fun and there is always such great energy throughout my kitchen that I can't help but feel energized at the end of the night!
Okay enough rambling and back to raw foods...I am by no means " a raw foodie" or "100 % raw" in fact, I believe in a very balanced approach to food and raw food being a huge component! Especially this time of year, it is very easy to "prepare" most of my foods as opposed to cooking them. Eating a "gourmet" raw meal like we did tonight in the class - takes a bit more thought and planning than just a salad or smoothie but still easy enough that anyone can do it (even without fancy equipment).
However, once it's complete and you have created a whole raw meal from zucchini noodles, fennel, carrot and beet slaw, cold avocado cucumber-coconut soup, almond basil pesto and the list goes on you will be feeling really proud of yourself and not to mention revived and alive!
It is common for most people to feel intimidated when it comes to raw food, and raw food prep. But the focus of tonight's class was on how to make raw foods simple and a apart of your everyday life without too much time and effort. You can make anything from "pasta" made from zucchini noodles (in your food processor) with an almond pesto, to "pizza" made from sprouted (Ezekiel) crust with sun dried tomato paste and cashew ricotta cheese to, nori rolls to an apple pie that wasn't even baked!
Have a look!
Yes, this may require a tad of planning. But all in all, preparing raw food can be simple, delicious and energizing!
Try this for starters....
Sun Seed Nori Rolls
1 cup sunflower seeds soaked 10-12 hours
1 cup almonds soaked 10-12 hours
1 ½ tablespoons dill, fresh and minced
1 tablespoon oregano fresh and minced
1 teaspoon sage, fresh and minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon kelp or dulse granules
½ tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup celery minced
1/3 cup red onion minced
Mix almonds and sunflower seeds, hand mix in remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Serve by itself or wrapped in nori with veggies (cucumber, lettuce, carrots, sprouts) or with flatbread, raw crackers or on top of a salad!
Also have a look at some of these resources to read more about the benefits of Raw Food.
Raw Food Life
Raw Food Diet
Raw Food Research
Raw Food and Energy Gains
Raw Food vs. Cooked Food