Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's Friday, which means that all the produce which remains in my fridge needs to be used, to make room for more.  This week it's kind of a lot of stuff for some reason, and while some of them are good to eat on their own, like the cauliflower (steamed cauliflower...YUUUUUM), making something like a stir-fry or veggie soup out of the remainder might be a little weird.  And the apples are only semi-firm and a bit manky...

What to do?  Oh what to do??

Why, make juice of course!

It's really hard to make juice that is gross.  I suppose it's possible, but I haven't done it yet, despite often throwing whatever is in the fridge together in a glass.

Juice #1 was an apple, and 1/2 a head of celery, leaves and all.  I drank that right away, and it was delish!

Just #2 made a lot more than one glass worth, so I poured it into a carafe and put it in the fridge.  This morning I had that, and poached eggs with hot sauce.  I forgot to put ginger in it unfortunately, but it was still delish!  I just love fresh-made veg juice with some fruit in it.  It's so full of healthy goodness!  About 30 minutes after that breakfast, I felt FANTASTIC.  My body really thanks me when I pack it full of nutrients!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I only have a moment, but I made the most FABULOUS clean cream of asparagus soup yesterday, and I just had to share it!

I used a VERY unhealthy chef-created recipe as a "flavour template", and went from there.  To me, if it's a cream of whatever soup, it MUST be creamy, and MUST be flavourful  I'm very picky about that kind of thing--I don't want to have a "light" version of some things, since the light version is most of the time NOT a good comparison.  If it doesn't taste anything like the original, are you REALLY going to eat the healthier version instead of the original?  I don't think so! 

Anyway, here's the cleaned up recipe.  It turned out SO FLAVOURFUL and WONDERFUL!  And you know if I say it's fantastic, then it is!!

Clean Cream of Asparagus Soup
4 Servings

1.5 lbs fresh asparagus

2 cups no-salt-added or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1.5 tbsp nutritional yeast

½ cup minced white sweet onion

1 cup sliced leeks, tender part only, thoroughly cleaned **

1 tbsp garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

2 cups homo milk

1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp olive oil based margarine

1/4 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos


1. Snap the asparagus spears at their natural separation point. Set aside the tops, and don’t throw away the bottoms.

2. In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the woody lower stems, lower the heat to medium-low or low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes to release the asparagus flavour into the stock. Discard asparagus bottoms.

3. In another medium pot, heat olive oil and olive oil margarine over medium to medium-high heat. Add leeks and onions, and sauté until soft—about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant—about 1 minute. Do not allow to brown.

4. Add leeks, onions and garlic to pot with stock. With an immersion blender, carefully blend until smooth (or relatively so…don’t go crazy trying to blend every last bit).

5. Add milk, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, fresh ground pepper, nutritional yeast, and sea salt if using (taste before adding).

6. Chop the asparagus tops you set aside earlier, into small pieces, about ¼ inch thick. Add to soup pot.

7. Heat at medium-low heat, covered, and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, or until asparagus is cooked.

8. With an immersion blender, blend to desired consistency. I like my asparagus soup to be only partly blended, with quite a few pieces of asparagus still in it.

9. Remove from heat, and pour into serving bowl, or individual bowls. Serve with crusty whole grain, if desired.

Nutritional yeast is a source of protein and vitamins, especially the B-complex vitamins, and is a complete protein.

** I find it’s easiest to clean leeks by slicing them into rounds, and then put them in a collander. Separate the slices into rings. When they’re all separated, rinse thoroughly.**

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What’s for dinner? What’s in season? Why am I asking questions?!

I live in a Ontario Canada, where the growing season in clear: A flurry of activity, followed by a rush of lovely seasonal, local foods, finally culminating with the autumn harvest—the last of what nature has to offer--hearty, robust produce we’ll make into stews, casseroles, or grate into crunchy salads.

As the growing season progresses, the produce goes from fairy, light-as-a-feather foods like fiddleheads (available in season for just 2 weeks!) through strawberries, tomatoes and peppers, celery and broccoli, and now, when many folks think the season is over, we’re into things like cantaloupe, carrots, kale (love kale!), leeks, pears, apples, potatoes and winter squash!

Have you ever tasted a super-fresh potato, right out of the ground? Well, washed and cooked, but have you? It’s an eye-opening experience! This time last year I was at a friend’s house for dinner, and she went to her family’s farm to literally pick what we would be having with our meal. Among other things, she picked lovely tiny red potatoes.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking—it’s a potato. What’s so great about a potato? But I had no idea what a truly fresh potato actually tasted like. It was fantastic! All it needed was a tiny bit of sea salt, because there was so much flavour. In a potato!

Strawberries are another example. Off-season strawberries from fields hundreds or thousands of kilometers away, may LOOK like strawberries, but they sure don’t taste like them. And the nutrition also suffers. They most often taste like water, and many of the nutrients are lost because they’re picked before they’re ripe, so they survive the trip. Don’t let me get started on the sprays used to keep them “fresh” on their journey…

Local foods in season also last longer. Have you ever bought something from the produce section of your supermarket, only to have it start to rot in just a few days? It’s annoying, it’s expensive…and it makes me wonder just how old this “fresh” produce really is. If it came from a long way away, it’s likely at least a week old. I’ve had carrots go soft in 2 or 3 days which I bought form the supermarket. Now I buy my carrots from the farmer’s market, and they not only have a far superior taste, they last for WEEKS!!

You may be thinking to yourself, “yes, but how am I supposed to know what’s in season and when, in my area?” Simple. Google “produce season” and your location. So for me it would be “produce season Ontario”.

For Americans for example, I’ve come up with this rather helpful link, which is a state-specific seasonal produce guide.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have to tell you, my idea about food has changed dramatically. I’ve been going to the farmer’s market for a few years now, but I now refuse to buy things from non-local sources, if I can help it. I seek out local dairy, local meats, local produce. And I try to eat as much as I can in season.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a big freezer in which to freeze and store fresh local produce, for consumption during the winter. Nor do I have room to store jars of preserves, or dehydrated veggies and fruit. So unfortunately that means I’ll have to make do with what offers during the winter. There are some local greenhouses which have a crop during the winter, which of course I’m all over, but that’s pretty much it. The way I figure it though, I will do all I can. I use biodegradable soup and cleaners. I don’t waste water, nor do I waste electricity. I take the bus, and car-pool. I eat organic products whenever I reasonably can (aka they don’t cost 10X as much).

Next growing season, I plan to try my darnedest to eat 95% in-season produce! If I plan ahead, I shouldn’t have much trouble. I say mostly because there may be times when I want nothing more than a mango…which isn’t local. But I’ll definitely be doing my part!

So…what are YOU doing, to do your part?