Food of the Month: Beets

Care of Andrea Gourgy Beets should be on everyone’s shopping list this season—they are economical, versatile and offer an abundance of nutritional benefits. Also known as beetroot, beets date as far back as Roman times, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that they became widely popular. In fact, they were originally cultivated for their leaves (or greens), which can be used on their own in dishes ranging from salads, soups and smoothies. Beets are abundant in phytonutrients, specifically anthocyanins which are responsible for their deep red colour. Anthocyanins are involved in the repair of DNA in the body, and are being studied for their role in cancer and heart disease prevention. Beets are a good source of iron, magnesium and folate. Beet greens in particular are rich in carotenoids, like beta carotene and lutein which have been shown to be key nutrients in chronic disease prevention. Most people are familiar with red beets, but they can also be found in yellow (golden) and white. Look for small or medium-sized beets (they are more tender), and check for firmness and smooth skin. The greens should be removed before storing beets, and they can last about three weeks in a plastic… Read More

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Homemade Spelt Bread

    Care of Amy Symington Ingredients  2-1/4 cups spelt flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp cane sugar 2 tsp active yeast 1 tsp ground rosemary 2/3 cup warm water 1 tbsp oil Garnish: Coarse sea salt, fresh rosemary, finely chopped Directions  In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Add the wet to the dry and incorporate. Knead until dough has formed. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Form into your desired loaf-like shape, sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh rosemary. Bake for 35 minutes on 375F. Serve with your favourite soup!… Read More

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Care of Amy Symington What the Spelt?! For those agricultural scientists at home, spelt is classified as a Triticum Spelta species and comes from the Poaceae family. In layman’s terms, spelt is a cereal grain from the grass family. It is a delicious and healthy alternative to more widely used grains or flours. Recognizable by its nutty taste, while the exact origin of this lesser known grain is unknown, most accounts suggest it was first found somewhere in Europe or the Middle East. Why the Spelt? Spelt is becoming more and more popular in North America, particularly with organic farmers as spelt requires far fewer fertilizers to grow adequately. Spelt is rich in protein, B vitamins, fibre and manganese. It is also a reliable source of iron, niacin, and phosphorous. Due to its richness in fibre, vitamins and minerals, spelt (like most whole grains) can be used in the prevention of Canada’s top diseases – Cancer, Heart disease and Diabetes – if consumed on a regular basis. On top of potentially saving lives, spelt is also easier to digest than regular wheat because of its low gluten content.  It does however contain a small amount of gluten, so is therefore… Read More

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How to Host a Vegan Challenge

by Marco Pagliarulo The Vegan Challenge (or vegan pledge) is a good way for “veg-curious” people to try a vegan diet for a short time in a fun environment under the guidance of a vegan who already knows the ropes.  One of the barriers to exploring vegan food in our society is the myth that vegan food is weird. A Vegan Challenge is also a great opportunity to dispel that myth. Back in April, I hosted a Vegan Challenge at my workplace (Ontario Ministry of the Environment) where I invited colleagues to adopt a vegan diet for 1 week.  About a dozen coworkers signed on.  This was part of a collective initiative of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA), Toronto Pig Save, and Rabble.ca to encourage people to take the Vegan Challenge during Earth Week. If you are vegan, then you already know that adopting a plant-based diet is a healthy, compassionate, delicious choice that has lighter eco-footprint on the planet. Why not spend a week showcasing this conscientious choice to a few of those around you? Here are some tips to get you started: 1.    Pick a Place Pick a place where you spend time on a regular basis,… Read More

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Discount Profile: Fresh

Care of Terri Coles Fresh is a Toronto landmark at this point. They were on the vegetarian train before a lot of other restaurants caught on, and their concept has been copied endless times. It’s still worth coming to the original source though; I’ve yet to have a juice or smoothie in the city that beats the ones you can get at Fresh. My favourite is Singing Grasshopper, and that’s the one I got with my meal on my most recent visit to Fresh for a friend’s birthday. We arrived at 5:30 pm on a Friday and had no trouble getting a table for four, but be prepared to wait if you go during peak times. Fresh on Bloor provides a great atmosphere for a relaxed dinner with friends, with a nice amount of light coming in from the big window facing Bloor Street. The spot is busy but not cramped, and you can still hold a conversation without any difficulty. We really dug in for the birthday meal — each of us got one of Fresh’s signature bowls, including Buddha, Beach and Warrior. And then there were the smoothies, of course. I love that Fresh is now offering two vegan… Read More

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Red Cabbage and Black Currant Salad

Makes 6 servings, care of the The New York Times     Ingredients 1 small head of red cabbage 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen black currants or black currant jam Sugar to taste Directions 1. Julienne the cabbage or grate it into fine shreds. Place it in a clean dish towel and squeeze out any excess moisture. Transfer to a large bowl. 2. If using frozen currants, defrost them. Mash the currants and, if necessary, sweeten to taste with sugar. 3. Combine the black currant mixture (or jam) with the cabbage and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. Read More

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Crazy for Currants

Care of Andrea Gourgy Fresh currants are typically grown in northern climates like Canada, but nevertheless, most of us are not very well acquainted with these tart little wonders. Currants are a lesser known member of the berry family, related to gooseberries. And they’re well worth adding into your food repertoire — they are an excellent source of vitamin C, and also contain potassium, iron and fibre. Currants were first cultivated in Scandinavia, and then later in England. In fact, during World War II, the British government encouraged black currant cultivation (which was then made into black currant syrup) as it was one of the only sources of vitamin C available in Britain at the time. For those of you who have been to England, you’ve probably noticed that black currant syrup (or fruit concentrate), called Ribena, is still quite popular there today. Fresh currants are often confused with dried Zante or Champagne grapes (which also go by the name currant), however, these tiny raisins are not related to the currant in the berry family.  Fresh currants are available in black, red and white. They can be used in savoury or sweet dishes such as jams, sauces, soups, puddings and… Read More

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Discount Profile: Greens Vegetarian Restaurant

Photo care of Prairie Vegan We often think we need to choose between affordable prices and a luxurious atmosphere when it comes to dining. But not at Greens Vegetarian Restaurant. Walking into Greens for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised at the very nice decor: padded white booths, a beautiful stone wall and dark tables. But the next surprise was even greater! The prices at this place are incredibly low for the portions you get: a big bowl of soup for only $2.99, and main dishes in the $7-$10 range (but again, we’re talking generous portions sizes!). If you’re a member of the Toronto Vegetarian Association and have a Toronto Veg Card your bill will be even more of a shocker, as card holders get an additional 10% off. But that doesn’t mean they are skimping on quality. We ordered a new dish on the menu, sweet n’ spicy “chicken”, which came coated in a sticky, sweet and perfectly spiced sauce. We also thoroughly enjoyed a generous bowl of wonton soup and an enormous noodle dish dazzled with various faux meat pieces and some veggies too. All dishes were delicious and we got to leave with leftovers. Discount:… Read More

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Perfect Parsnips

Care of Andrea Gourgy     With their nutty, delicate and mildly sweet flavour, it’s odd that the humble parsnip never became all that popular here in North America. Parsnips are a root vegetable: They are related to carrots, but actually are a member of the parsley family. Parsnips used to be considered a delicacy in ancient Rome, and were popular in Europe. That is, until potatoes were introduced from the Americas. Parsnips were brought to North America in the 1600s, but despite their lovely flavour, they could never quite beat out the potato in popularity. It’s a shame that parsnips don’t get more attention: they are low in calories, and a good source of folate, a B-vitamin that is essential during pregnancy to help reduce birth defects. Parsnips are also a source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin C and pantothenic acid. They’re also versatile! They can be eaten raw, boiled, baked, sautéed or even juiced! When choosing parsnips, go for smaller ones as they tend to be more tender. Avoid ones that are withered or have blemishes. Parsnips can be stored in your refrigerator for up to three weeks. Read More

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Discount Profile: Vegetarian Haven

Care of Terri Coles This review almost didn’t happen. My friend and I stopped by Vegetarian Haven on a Saturday evening. Baldwin Street is an unassuming side street with surprisingly cool options for food and shopping, and apparently Vegetarian Haven is something of a hidden treasure. We managed to snag a table for two, but everyone who came in after us was informed there would be a wait — and they all opted to get in line rather than go elsewhere. This restaurant offers plenty of reasons to put your name on the list for a table. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, but also elegant — it’s a great spot for a date. But the portions are generous and the prices are great, and most importantly the food is top notch. I got the Morrocan pad Thai, a nice twist on a favourite Toronto dish, and my friend enjoyed his spicy Bali stir-fry noodles. The noodles are made fresh in Toronto every day. I particularly appreciated that the menu indicates which dishes are wheat-free, and which others can be made that way. The fresh mint and ginger teas were definitely nice on a cold evening, and the… Read More

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