Real Food A to Z


Posted by karen
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Fermentation - Part 1 

This summer a few readers asked about fermented foods. My apologies for such a tardy response (you know who you are), and you have every right if you toast me forever as a reliable source for anything!
 
Now get to it.
 
The fermenting process is one I enjoy dabbling with: mostly yogurt and sauerkraut. This summer I tried a new experiment: lacto-fermenting veggies, using produce from my first-year fledging garden.
 
 
Credits for the instructions go to Whole Life Nutrition, a source I am grateful to for their inspiration to have fun "playing around" with different tastes, using what you have available.
 

What You Will Need:

- glass quart jar with a plastic lid
 
- salt brine - with a ratio of 1-1.5 Tbsp. sea salt to 2 cups water (filtered water is recommended - chlorine can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria, not to mention it's not particularly healthy for us) 
 
- chopped raw organic vegetables: e.g. cauliflower, beets, bell peppers, turnips, broccoli, onions, green beans, garlic, etc. 
 
- cabbage leaves (for the top)
 
- combination of herbs and spices: e.g. dried chili peppers, black peppercorns, bay leaf, fresh dill or tarragon
 
- salt brine using this ratio: 1 - 1.5 Tbsp. sea salt dissolved in 2 cups water
 

What to Do: 

- put your combination of vegetables into a glass jar (or a ceramic crock if you're so lucky to have one) 
 
- add a few layers of herbs and spices. Tip: if using peppercorns put them at the bottom of the jar so they don't float to the top. 
 
- leave about an inch at the top of the jar
 
- cover with the salt brine, leaving about 1/2 inch where you place a folded cabbage leaf and press into the brine. This helps keep the vegetables fully submerged with the water floating on the top.
 
- cover with a plastic lid (metal ones can become corroded by the salt and acids)
 
- screw the lid on - not too tight, to leave space for gasses to release
 
- place jars in a rectangular container to catch any drips that might happen and set in an undisturbed spot on your kitchen counter - out of direct sunlight
 
 

Wait and taste:

- after 5 days, taste your veggies to see how soured they are - you'll probably want to leave them more like 7 or 8. Fermenting takes longer in the cooler months, less time in the summer.
 
- total sitting time is according to your taste - there's no set, scientific formula when working with fermented foods
 
- once the veggies are soured, remove the cabbage leaf and store jar(s) in the refrigerator - where your fermented veggies will keep for months.
 

My version:

I made the following two combinations: each one was a 2-litre jar.
 
1 Tbsp peppercorns
beets
few garlic cloves
carrots
sprigs of fresh dill
green pepper
salt brine
 
1 Tbsp peppercorns
summer turnip
green beans
garlic cloves
tarragon leaves
salt brine
 
Each jar sat on the cupboard for 8 days. 
 
Initially I didn't care for the turnip combination: I think because the tarragon flavour over-powered the summer turnip, which has a milder flavour than the winter variety. However, after sitting in the fridge for a few weeks, I'm liking it more.
 
I still prefer the beets one the best, although I would add more garlic and some hot peppers next time.
 
Will I dabble around with this more? Definitely. I'll try different combinations, probably add more garlic, choose my herbs carefully and cut the veggies smaller - small-diced, not chunky like in the picture.
 
These lacto-fermented veggies are handy additions to a salad, or mixed with grains and greens, or whatever way suits your eating fancy.
 
And oh yes: fermented foods are healthy for your inner "ecosystem". Improve digestion, stimulate the liver, and help control sugar cravings.
 
My next fermenting schedule is making kimchi and a kraut using cabbage and other vegetables that are ground or finely sliced.
 
To be continued .... Fermentation Part 2 -  I promise.
Posted by karen
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September. The month synonymous with the return to packing lunches: specifically, school lunches and the challenges that brings.

This doesn't apply to me anymore (the school lunch part) but my husband still regularly needs a packed lunch for work so I am always on the look-out for healthy take-along lunch ideas. These little mini quiches serve equally as well for breakfast, lunch or otherwise. Quick to make too.

Click → Printable recipe for Garden Mini Crustless Quiches
 

Garden Mini Crustless Quiches

 
Ingredients:
 
3 eggs
 
2 large stalks kale (swiss chard can be substituted)
 
1/2 cup frozen peas
 
1/2 small zucchini, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
 
2 Tbsp pine nuts (yes, they're expensive, but the small amount needed here goes a long way with texture and flavour)
 
fresh herbs if available: I used about 1 Tbsp dill and 2 Tbsp basil 
 
spices of your choice: I used about 1/2 tsp each of cumin and a thyme seasoning mix called za'atar, 1/8 tsp chili powder, dash of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
 
optional: 3-4 Tbsp. cheese of your choice; I used grated Parmesan 
 
Directions:
 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
 
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients (except for the optional cheese) and mix well.
 
Scoop out 7 - 8 equal portions into a muffin pan with lightly greased paper liner cups.
 
Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes - if using cheese, sprinkle a spoonful on top of each "muffin" for the last 4-5 minutes of cooking.
 
These are delicious and nutritious for "anytime" eating - and very transportable for take-along lunches.
 
 
I'm one of five siblings and for a few years we all caught the school bus at the road, making sure we had grabbed our lunch kits - or lunch bags when they became the cool thing - as the only other option in our country school was to beg off our friends. Amazing Mom made our lunches - no small feat considering we had to eat breakfast and be out of the house by 7:45. The lunch "prize" was the dessert, and we were rarely disappointed.
 
Kids still like something sweet. Peanut butter balls that my daughter got me hooked on last summer are my perfect sweet fix; because of the nut-oil content they travel best packed in a small container. Pesonally I don't mind them being a little soft so a couple stowed in a baggie where they're somewhat protected works for me.
 
I've adjusted the recipe a tad: click → printable copy of Raw Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls.  Make some for lunches of all kinds - kids, work, camping and cycling trips, etc.
 
Last week I came across a recipe the closest I've seen to the chocolate-roasted hazelnut spread we know as Nutella. In good health conscience (though on occasion I indulge in a spoonful from someone else's jar), I can't recommend it for great health benefits (even with its hazelnuts, skim milk, and cocoa). And I have a hard time believing some claims that "star" Italian soccer players are energized and nourished with the product -  eating this healthier version, however, wouldn't be such a bad idea. Here's the recipe, by another name.
 
Click → Printable recipe of Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
 

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

Ingredients:

2/3 cup hazelnuts, with skins on
 
*1/4 cup raw honey and 3-4 pitted Medjool dates
 
3-4 Tbsp. organic cocoa powder
 
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk: other options are dairy, rice, almond, hemp)
 
(* other sweetening options: 1/2 maple syrup or raw honey, without dates. This will make it sweeter and smoother; I chose part honey/part dates for a less-refined product.)
 
Directions:
 
Toast hazelnuts in a pre-heated 350F degree oven, for about 12-15 minutes. A toaster oven works well when toasting such a small amount.
 
Let nuts cool slightly before rolling through your hands to rub most of the skins off.
 
Process the nuts in bowl of a food processor, pulsing and scraping down sides as necessary, until nuts are like a nut butter. This might take about 5 minutes.
 
Add sweetener and cocoa to hazelnut butter and process until smooth, about 5 minutes.
 
Add as much milk as necessary to achieve the consistency of cream cheese.
 
Scoop spread into a jar or other airtight container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. I doubt it will last that long!
 
 
To Serve/Pack-a-long Hazelnut Spread:
 
spread desired amount  (a.k.a. thick layer!) on favourite Ryvita cracker - top with another cracker
 
scoop spread into small plastic container with lid - pack along with rice crackers or cakes, pita chips, etc. Don't forget to send along a plastic knife!
 
spread desired amount on whole-wheat tortilla. Roll up, cut into wedges - and divide amongst the family!
 
What's your favourite healthy lunch idea? Please pass it along!
Posted by karen
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Our summer berry season was very short this year - I missed the pleasure of picking them myself.

Except for the blueberries. Both my husband and I love picking berries. So far, we've each spent an afternoon at the Lunenburg County Winery, happily filling our pails off their acres of high bush blueberry bushes. We've "filled our faces", my freezer has several large Ziploc bags full, and I've made some raw berry "cheesecake" pies. The pie in the photo has half raspberries (purchased at the farmer's market) and half blueberries. This pie tastes delicious with one berry type or a combination of your choice.

Click → Printable recipe for Raw Berry "Cheesecake" Pie

Raw Berry “Cheesecake” Pie

 
The Crust:
1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup raw, flaked coconut
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of sea salt – to taste
 
The Filling:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 tsp. extract)
about 1/4 cup water
pinch of sea salt
3 cups fresh berries – blueberries, raspberries or combination thereof
 
Instructions:
 
Place almonds in a food processor and process until almost fine. Add flaked coconut and process for a minute or so.
 
Add in the syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt. Process until everything is nicely incorporated.
 
Remove mixture from the bowl and press into the bottom and side of a 9-inch pie pan. Place in the freezer while you make the filling.
 
Place the cashews and about 1/4 cup water in the pitcher of a blender (or a food processor). Blend well, slowly add lemon juice, coconut oil, maple syrup, nutmeg, vanilla and sea salt.
 
Blend until creamy. (May be necessary to add more water.)
 
Remove the crust from the freezer and pour in about half of the filling. Scatter about half of the berries on pie, then add the rest of the filling. Place remaining berries on top. 
 
Freeze for a few hours. Cover with plastic wrap and foil, if pie is going to be in the freezer for more than a day.
 
Before serving, remove pie from freezer and place in refrigerator for a couple hours. (This pie can also be eaten directly from the freezer, however, I found it difficult to cut using just a fork – pieces broke off, with some of the chunks “flying” off the plate. That's why I like to allow the pie to soften a bit before eating.)
 
(Thanks to Heather Bruggeman for her generosity in allowing me to share her recipe.)
 
I still need more berries to put away for winter smoothies, muffins - and raw pies. Our season should continue for another 3-4 weeks so we've got time to head back to the patch for more fun.  
 
What are your favourite berry recipes? 

K is for Kale

31 Aug 2012
Posted by karen
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Following a long hiatus, this was my first year back into vegetable gardening. Last summer, we prepared the soil: adding lime to balance the pH, mixing in organic matter hauled in from a local farm, mixing in the "dirt" our composter produced from all our fresh produce scraps.
 
This initial year my garden plan was not too complicated. I planted plenty of garlic last fall, which grew well (it's pretty hard to mess up with garlic) and is now curing - hanging on hooks in the shed. Greens are an important part of my daily menu so chard, spinach, mustard greens, and kale were on my list. Carrots, beets, onions, potatoes (my first experience with potato beetles @##&$!!), squash, leeks, summer turnips - with tomatoes, one jalapeno plant, a few (prolific) cucumber plants and some herbs filling in the rest. 
 
Some vegetables produced better than others - due to the timing of planting, the amount of rain (I had to supplement with hand watering), and the care that was given to it (which was on the short side for the veggies - not to mention the weeds: apologies to my Mom, whose gardening example I couldn't follow).
 
The biggest rewards have been my tomatoes, the volunteer squash that grew from the composter dump, the herbs - and the kale, which just goes on and on.  
 
I try to have a green smoothie or salad every day - plus toss extra greens into sauces and other dishes. I still have kale left in my garden.
 
 
 
On the recommendation from Gisele, a good friend and cook extraordinaire, I am freezing it for future frostier days. I've tasted Gisele's green smoothies made with her frozen kale and am confident in encouraging you to try this too.
 

How to freeze kale.

Wash kale leaves carefully (those little green worms can easily hide) and remove as much water as possible in a lettuce spinner.
 
Place a piece of waxed paper about 12"X12" on the cupboard and cover with torn kale leaves. For the amount of smoothie I make, I use about 2 1/2 oz. of kale. 
 
 
Carefully tucking in the leaves, roll the wax paper up into a tube.
 
 
Place tube in a Ziplog freezer bag. Once your bag is full of kale "rolls", put into freezer.
 
 
Take out rolls as needed to use in smoothies (or soups, etc.).
 
 
Freeze your kale - forward your garden's goodness to cold weather nutrition.
 
 
 
Posted by karen
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Salad meals take centre stage any time of the year -  and are top billing especially now with summer's bounty of garden greens and the cornucopia of fresh veggie toppings.

But don't stop there.

Make it a meal deal by adding cooked beans;  nuts and seeds; chunky fruit.

There is still something missing .... the dressing!!

This is what gives Eat This - Meal Salads & Whole Food Dressings "podium status" as compared to many other salad recipe books: Renee Tougas has included dressing recipes that bring nutritious satisfaction and delicious balance "to the plate."

 As a (w)holistic nutritionist I wholeheartedly recommend this product - as Renee's proud Mom, I am delighted to encourage my readers to buy this e-book. And as an affiliate I sincerely endorse this product; authentic to my philosphy and passion for real food nutrition.

Click at Fimby to purchase Eat This.  At $4.99 it's affordable to get one for yourself and a friend (know someone heading off to college?). These recipes have been successfully tested and tried for children too so don't forget the younger set in your circle of family and friends.

(P.S. there's non-salad recipes too - bonus!)

Salads and yummy dressings - you'll want Eat This... for your newest recipe resource.

S is for Sprouts

13 Jun 2012
Posted by karen
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Sprouts. What mental picture do you see? If it's the plastic box of (often sorry-soggy-looking) alfalfa sprouts sitting in the produce department of your local supermarket, I encourage you to explore the big "live food" world of sprouts.

Sprouted Seed FAQS

-  what makes them "live" is that their enzyme content is greater than in their original state

-  the sprouting process helps to predigest the seeds' nutrients. How? Starch is converted to simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptones, and crude fat is broken down into free fatty acids. Which means? Nutrients are more easily available and accessible for the body to use.

- germination (sprouting) increases: the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K (triples!) and carotene

- sprouts are high in chlorophyll, boosting the body with oxygen and increased blood flow

Sprouting seeds yourself is definitely cheaper than purchasing them but I can't resist buying most of mine from Cindy, a farmer's market vendor who is as wonderfully organic as all her fine produce. I'm lucky if there's any of these pea shoots left in the bag by the time I get home.
 
 
I use a simple method of sprouting for my infrequent spurts of sprouting: using a quart jar that came with three plastic lids with different hole sizes. 
 
- use a large, very clean mason jar and place about 1 Tbsp. seeds in it. Then place over the top of the jar some clean netting (e.g. cheese cloth) and secure with an elastic band (or use lids with small holes if you can find them).
 
- add water, rinse and drain
 
- add 1 cup cool water and soak for 2-6 hours
 
- drain, refill jar with cool water and drain again.
 
- invert jar and prop at an angle in a bowl or dish
 
(here's two jars at different stages)
 
- make sure you rinse them every morning and evening and prop jar back in bowl
 
 
- enjoy in 3-6 days, store in refrigerator
 
- if possible use organic sprouting seeds: instructions should be on the package - follow carefully as they may vary for different seeds
 
 
I found a recipe sprout salad recipe that called for mung bean sprouts, which, alas, were all gone by the time I got to the market! However, Cindy suggested I do my own sprouts using lentils, which are easier to sprout than mung beans.
 
She was so right - and I loved the taste of them. 
 
Lentils are significantly bigger seeds than many other sprouting seeds, so I've included instructions. Allow about 72 hours from start to finish: they can become bitter if they're left to sprout too long.
 
- sort, wash and rinse 4 Tbsp. lentils, which will produce about 1 1/2 cups
 
- put lentils in a 1-quart size jar with sprout-strainer lid
 
- cover with 3-4 inches water and let soak overnight or 8-12 hours.
 
- drain, rinse and drain again - divide lentils into two jars to allow them space to sprout without being too close together
 
- every morning and evening rinse and drain lentils and set the jars on an angle - after about 72 hours they will be soft and have little white tails!
 

Lentil Sprout and Almond Salad

3/4 cup plain yogurt (thick well-drained yogurt is best, e.g. Greek-style)
1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 handful arugula, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup chives, minced
 
1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts
 
2/3 cup well-toasted, sliced almonds
1 ripe avocado, chopped
good extra virgin olive oil
 
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, salt, arugula, and chives. 
 
In a larger bowl toss the lentil sprouts and almonds with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the avocado, and gently toss once or twice more.
 
Serve the spouts and almonds next to the yogurt mixture and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. If you had a few chive flowers in your bunch, sprinkle them across the top.
 
Serves 2-4 as a very pretty, nutrient-dense side dish.
 
 
Posted by karen
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I haven't made lasagna for ages (probably years) - and not because it calls for a lengthy preparation time, but I've been reducing my refined grain consumption (i.e. pasta).

Then I came across the following recipe using polenta; both my husband and I loved it. Holds together very well, is also delicious the next day - even cold as a take along lunch. You don't have to make your own polenta but it's quite quick and simple - I didn't have any of the packaged kind on hand and I also wanted to make sure the corn was organic.

Easy Polenta

Can be served with fish, chicken or a rich tomato/veggie sauce. 
 
3 cups water 
1 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil or butter
1 cup polenta (ground cornmeal) – 2/3 cup fine grind, 1/3 cup med-coarse grind 
(organic cornmeal is recommended, as most corn grown is genetically modified) 
Preheat oven to 350F.
 
In 3-qt. pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add salt and oil. Slowly add polenta, stirring continuously with a whisk. Lower heat and continue to stir for 10-15 minutes with a wooden spoon. If desired, stir in additional options for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.
 
optional additions:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. sun-dried tomatoes in oil (swab with paper towel before chopping)
 
Spread into a greased 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (depending on pan size) or until tester comes out clean. Let cool 5-10  mins. before serving
 
Other ways to use this polenta recipe:
- a double batch can be levelled out in a greased 9x13 pan to be used as  gluten-free pizza crust or as the bottom "bun" for burgers. For pizza, simply top the cooked polenta with pizza sauce, your favourite sauteed veggies and some cheese (opt). Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until everything is heated through. For open-faced burgers, cut polenta into squares and use as the base for burger and choice of toppings. If polenta is thicker than what you like for these dishes, spread in a larger pan and adjust cooking times.
 
 
(original recipe credits to www.WholeLifeNutrition.net)
 

Polenta Lasagna with Portabellas and Greens

Ingredients:
1 18-oz package prepared polenta or homemade
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 medium-sized portabella mushrooms, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups, chopped)
4 cloves garlic, minced or diced
8 cups washed, bite-sized pieced spinach, kale or other greens
1-2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. herbamare
fresh-ground pepper
 
"Cheese" sauce:
1/2 cup extra-firm silken tofu (soft worked fine for me too)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or milk of choice)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste) 
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. tapioca starch (or corn starch)
 
1 1/4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or spaghetti sauce in a jar works fine)
1/4-1/3 cup pitted and sliced olives - green, kalamata, etc.
parmesan cheese (optional)
 
Instructions:
 
Put cheese sauce ingredients into blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
Saute onions and portabellas in a non-stick skillet until mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the garlic and saute on low heat for another minute. Add the greens, basil and 1/4 cup water. Saute until the greens are wilted and tender and the water has evaporated. Add the cheese sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper or herbs if needed.
Remove from heat.
 
 
Preheat oven to 375F.
Spray bottom and sides of 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.(If using homemade polenta from recipe above, "build" the lasagna in the same size dish.)
If using purchased polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the slices, overlapping slightly if possible. (If using polenta recipe above, remove from pan and carefully slice the whole thing through the middle, and put the bottom layer back into the pan.)
 
Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce over the polenta, then spread on the greens mixture on top of that. 
Sprinkle the chopped olives over the greens and top with the remaining polenta.
Spread the remaining marinara sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated parmesan, if using.
Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5- 10 minutes before serving.
 
 
(Note: this is gluten-free, but if preparing this dish for guests I recommend confirming ahead of time regarding corn allergies.)
Posted by karen
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Does nutrition have anything in common with naturopathic medicine?

When I posed this question to Dr. Ben Connolly, ND, this nutrition nut (me, not him), was thrilled to hear: "... nutritional counselling is my first consideration when I see my patients." That nutrition includes dietary changes and supplements - with his plan for the latter as initial building and restoring, and some for maintenance - with the goal as food being the primary source of healthy nutrition.

My appointment with Ben had been due to pain and swelling in my left hand, specifically at the base of my thumb (something happened while hiking and grasping a walking pole?!). He introduced me to acupuncture treatment, demonstrated appropriate stretches, and prescribed vitamin E, and fish oil, rich in omega-3 fats. There might have been more recommendations but this is all I remember from that visit two years ago. Since then, I've completed my nutrition studies and am grateful for the opportunity to do nutrtional consulting with some of his patients.

For the record, since then the thumb is functioning much better.  And I've learned more about Ben's naturopathic medicine philosophy.

"To promote innate healing of the body through safe and effective natural treatments."

Besides clinical nutrition, some of these treatments include:

- hydrotherapy - using the properties of water (temperature and pressure) - to help alleviate symptoms of disease and to improve circulation. My own experience/experimenting has been fluctuating the hot and cold temperatures while in the shower - an awakening! This is to improve circulation and to help flush toxins. For hardy souls - Ben's advice: take this on gradually, but is oh so reviving!

- acupuncture - this technique has my vote of credible healing/treatment 
 
- hands on body work, muscle manipulation
 
- lifestyle modifications - exercise, sleep, stress, aids for functional living
 
- herbal therapy
 
- orthomolecular medicine
 
What can't a naturopathic doctor do? "Refer patients for blood tests (can recommend that patient ask MD for specific tests) or perform surgery." 

 

From childhood, Ben had been interested in medicine and started his training with a Bachelor of Science degree at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. His job in a hospital lab, specifically related to transplant patients, was interesting work but other "aspects" of the job enforced his decision not to follow through on his original plan for mainstream medicine.

Four years later, he obtained his Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

Ben's purpose as stated on his business card.

"To improve quality of life for patients by addressing the fundamental causes of disease, by healing the whole person through individualized treatment and by promoting the principles of healthy living and preventive medicine." 

Knowing Ben's postive and professional attitude, expertise in his field, and friendly manner I can recommend that he will follow through on his purpose. 

Dr. Ben - and his wife, Julie, a massage therapist and certified laser therapist - work out of Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia, and can be contacted through cornerstone naturopathic inc. . 
 
The sure link between this ND and nutrition? There are recipe books using whole, real food ingredients for sale in the front office. Let's just say, you probably won't see that at most mainstream doctor's offices.
 
It would only be right that I should have at least one recipe to suggest. The original recipe used kale but I thought the chard was a fine substitute.
 

Beet, Swiss Chard, and Walnut Salad

 
 
3 - 4 beets, peeled and cubed
1 bunch swiss chard (or can substitute kale), rinsed and chopped
1 cup raw walnuts, lightly roasted
2/3 cup (organic) feta cheese (optional but is a great addition)
 
Dressing:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (carefully chopped)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
 
Steam cubed beets until tender, for 15-25 minutes, depending on their size. Put into bowl to cool; steam chard (or kale) greens for 5-10 minutes - until tender but still bright green. Rinse in cold water and carefully squeeze out excess water. Place in bowl with beets.
 
Toast walnuts in toaster oven or in frying pan on the stove for about 10 minutes, stirring or shaking often, watching carefully so they don't burn. 
 
In a small jar with a lid, shake together dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss carefully. Top with feta cheese if using and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
 
Colorfully, delicious nutritious.
Beets - rich in folic acid and promote detoxification
Swiss chard - abundant in chlorophyll: purification and promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal flora
Walnuts - high in omega-3 fats: reduce inflammation, help protect against cardiovascular disease
 
 

The last few blogs have been on a bit of a salad roll - I think it's the hope and vibrancy of spring (as I finish this on a snowy Easter Sunday!!). But before I switch gears I have to leave a link for one more: this salad from FatFree Vegan Kitchen is  worth eating just for the dressing!

Bon appetit!!

Hur-"raw" Salsa Salad

31 Mar 2012
Posted by karen
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I'm satisfying my craving for "fresh", dancing with this salsa salad.

dressing: mix together
1/2 avocado, mashed
juice squeezed from 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. ground pepper (to taste)
 
 
Chop the following into small chunky bits - salsa consistency - and put into a small bowl.
 
1/2 of a red pepper
1/2 or more of a jalapeño pepper
1/3 of an English cucumber
1 large tomato
4 green onions
2 stalks celery
1 carrot peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp. pepper flakes (or to taste)
cilantro leaves - cut up, enough to fill 1/2 cup (careful not to bruise while cutting)
1/4 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
 
Mix in the dressing and start munching - and munching - and more munching - to properly digest it and get the full benefits of vitamins and minerals.
Bonus: the (hot) peppers and omega 3's in the avocado are great for your metabolism - fat burners, so to speak.
 
Add your favourite cooked beans to make this salad a meal - plus notching up the nutrition (B vitamins, calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium and protein). Roll the salad up in a huge crisp lettuce leaf and you'll have one crunchy veggie burrito. Can be eaten out of hand, or if messy bothers you, use cutlery.
 
 

Need more "raw-raw"? If ever there was a time for green, this is the season.

 
 
Savoury Green Soup
 
Put the following into a blender and - blend well: I love my vitamix for always doing this job so well.
 
2 tomatoes
about 3 handfuls of greens - a mixture of spinach and kale or chard ( dandelion greens will soon be available)
3 stalks of celery (cut up into chunks)
1 avocado (without pit and peel)
some chopped spicy pepper - you choose your heat
juice of 1/2 lemon
 
Blend until smooth. Pour into a pretty soup bowl. At this point you transform it from a smoothie to soup. Cut up some more - small - avocado chunks and stir (hide) into the soup for added texture. Garnish the top with snippets of dulce (will give soup a salty flavour), or fresh sprouts (alfalfa, clover, pea, broccoli), or the first wee sprigs of parsley reviving in your garden.
 
What's your favourite "ode (recipe) to spring and all things green and raw?"
Posted by karen
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It's winter - and soup is on the menu.

Reasons why home made soup can be a winner in any season:

 

-- you know what is in it - and what isn't in it (like salt, additives, preservatives, sugar, etc.)
 
-- great way to add more veggies to your diet
 
-- perfect dish for adding chopped greens (kale, spinach, chard) -  which boost your day's intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; fight off the flu and colds; and boost your energy 
 
-- economical – what you find in the fridge can become your “soup of the day” 
 
-- convenient – make a large enough batch to have extra to freeze for later
 
-- the protein you add (eg. beans and lentils) plus the fibre from the veggies is satisfying, can boost weight loss
 
-- increases water intake  - not drinking enough water is a deficiency that lowers metabolism, increases cravings, sends you messages that you're hungry but are most likely just thirsty
 
 
Here's the recipe for my latest favourite - I think you're going to love it too!
 

Carrot Leek  Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
 
2 large leeks – chopped (can substitute with 1 large onion)
 
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
 
12 medium sized carrots cut into small pieces
 
7 cups water
 
lemon peel from 1 lemon – organic is best
 
2 - 3 Tbsp. light miso
 
pinch of cayenne (to taste)
 
1 – 2 tsp. dried dill or 2- 3 Tbsp fresh dill or any of your favourite herbs
 
Saute leeks (or onion) in olive oil until tender. Add water and bring to boil. Add minced garlic, carrots and lemon. Cover and simmer until carrots are tender, about 10 - 20 minutes. Remove lemon and discard. Add miso, cayenne and puree, using hand blender, blender or food processor. Add herbs and serve.
 
This is such a comforting, nutritious soup: beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, and a long list of minerals.

This past week I made two (huge) pots of soup for my Dad's 90th birthday party - still enjoying the leftovers. 

I omitted the sherry and didn't use spaghetti squash in this roasted squash soup, and left out the potatoes and peas in this one hearty and wholesome vegetable soup . Both delicious.

Do yourself a favour - get out the stock pot, fill the house with the goodness and fragrance of "Soup's on!"

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