Food of the Month

Ch-ch-ch-chia seeds

Care of Amy Symington Little did we know in the 80’s that chia seeds not only make the ultimate furry friends, but that they are also a super food. Chia seeds are a source of ALA or alpha-linolenic fatty acid.  ALA fatty acids are essential in our diet, meaning that they must be consumed through dietary means as our bodies do not produce them naturally. Many health benefits have been researched and discovered concerning the consumption of ALA rich foods, like chia seeds. They may potentially reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, stress and may lower bad cholesterol levels. Most recently, one large study even suggests that ALA consumption may reduce the growth of breast cancer cells. However, the strongest health benefit noted to date for ALA fatty acid consumption is its link to Coronary Heart Disease risk reduction. On top of its chronic disease prevention powers via ALA, chia seeds are also high in protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin C and are great for regulating blood sugar levels.  They are high in antioxidants and are gluten free.  They are also high in fibre; which helps with weight maintenance, increasing beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine and helping with vitamin… Read More

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Whoop whoop for walnuts!

Care of Laura Wright My first exposure to walnuts was, sadly, as a seemingly stubborn addition to brownies. I’ve grown out of that childhood distaste and thank goodness. The taste is rich and wonderful, whether you’re eating them raw or toasted, and the health benefits are kind of insane too. They are the edible seed of their respective tree and the most common major species of walnuts are grown for their seeds exclusively–the Persian or English walnut and the black Walnut. The black walnut is grown throughout North America, as well as in Ontario, and has a wonderfully strong eucalyptus kind of flavour. For Your Mind: Walnuts have an impressive Omega-3 fatty acid content and what’s more? A solid handful will provide you with most of your daily needed intake. Our brains rely on healthy fats for their make-up, but also in terms of mood stabilization and overall activity. Solid, saturated fats rather predictably make for solid and sticky barriers to nutrient and waste flow. Omega-3 fats tend to be more fluid which makes for more optimal nutrient absorption and overall brain function. Sprinkle a few on salads, grind them into a nut butter or simply snack on… Read More

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Food of the Month: Horse Radish

Care of Amy Symington Horse radish, a member of the Brassicaceae family, is an often forgotten or snubbed root veggie.  Similar to its cruciferous cousins, radish, mustard and wasabi, horse radish packs a pungent punch not only flavour-wise but nutritionally speaking as well. When intact the small root is practically odorless, however, once broken down its strong smell and sharp, spicy taste could bring even the toughest spice eater to their knees, or rather, to their nose. It can be classified as a nutriceutical or functional food, which by definition is a food item that not only provides basic human nutrition like vitamins and minerals, but also supplies additional health benefits like reducing the risk of chronic disease.   In this case, horse radish specifically contains a number of different phytochemicals that provide specific health benefits.  For example, often horse radish contains high concentrations of glucosinolates, which are known for their fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties.  In addition, recent research concerning glucosinolates suggests that horse radish may even help with reducing cancer causing carcinogens present in the body. Vitamin C and fibre, which horse radish contains high levels of, also fall under the nutriceutical category, as they act as free radical scavengers and… Read More

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Delicata Squash With Whole Lime Tabbouleh

Care of Laura Wright Serves: 6-8 Notes: Make sure you let the cooked bulgur cool down completely before tossing it with all of the other ingredients to avoid major grain-clumping. Feel free to use quinoa or millet for a very similar gluten-free option too. Salad Ingredients: 1 medium delicata squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds removed 2 tbsp grapeseed oil 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp sea salt black pepper 1 cup dry bulgur 5-6 roma/plum (I used golden romas) tomatoes, cut into small wedges 8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped roughly 8 sprigs mint, leaves chopped roughly Vinaigrette Ingredients: 1 lime, halved and chopped into smaller pieces 1 clove of garlic, peeled 1 tbsp agave nectar 1/3 cup grapeseed (or olive) oil 1/3 cup water salt and pepper Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the delicata halves crosswise into 1/2 inch thick half moons. Toss them with the 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Arrange on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool. While the squash… Read More

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Totally Delicious: Delicata Squash

  Care of Laura Wright I could not be happier at the sight of a few striped delicata squashes forming in the garden toward the end of August—and not just because it’s sometimes referred to as “Bohemian Squash.” Along with the teeny apples adorning the trees, this is one of the first waves hello from Autumn. Some sources throw it into the “summer squash” category (along with pattypans and yellow crookneck varieties), and others lump it in with winter squashes like butternut or acorn, but the time to get on these sweet vegetables is right now in early Fall. They hold their shape beautifully when roasted, making them just right for stuffing with lentils, grains or small cuts of vegetables. More often than not, I find myself roasting slices/chunks with salt, pepper, spices etc and tossing the pieces into soups or my kale/grain salads for added texture. The flavour is quite similar to sweet potatoes. On Picking & Choosing: You want to select a delicata that is creamy yellow with even dark green striping down its sides. If the hue is veering more towards light green, it isn’t ripe enough. As a general note on squash selection, you… Read More

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The Almighty Eggplant!

Care of Amy Symington Eggplant, or aubergine to our Queen loving commonwealth mates, is the king of the nightshade plant family for good reason. Although anywhere from white to green varieties are available, generally eggplants have a deep, glossy, purple skin.  They are spongy in texture and are mild, yet bitter in flavour.  They grow from vines just like their cousins the tomato and the pepper, and are native to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The antioxidant content of eggplant is tremendous, helping to fend off unwanted free radical invaders.  Specifically, a great deal of research has been found on the phytonutrient called nasunin, a member of the anthocyanins, which has been shown to protect the lipids found in our brain cell membranes. This strong antioxidant presence may also help to reduce inflammation in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.  A link between the consumption of eggplant and reducing blood cholesterol levels and cholesterol build up in artery walls has also been made in current research. Aside from its obvious regal prosperity, eggplant is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also an excellent source of dietary fibre, folate, potassium and manganese. Read More

Filed under: elifelines Food of the Month Healthy Living

Avocado Love

Care of Laura Wright This fruit in a sneaky vegetable-ish disguise is easily one of my favourite foods. Period. It hails from tropical climates and grows in over 900 different varieties. The texture is smooth, creamy and luxurious. It tastes good with almost everything savoury. It can be slipped and whipped into luscious desserts with surprising ease. It’s also incredibly healthy for a variety of reasons. Today, I’ll talk about some health benefits and guidelines for avocado selection. On fat, folate + all the other goodies: The energy from avocados is primarily sourced from their fat content. This may seem like a health concern at first glance. It’s worthy of note that the fat contained in this fruit is monounsaturated, which is heart healthy and won’t raise cholesterol. In fact, the good fat in avocados has been proven to reduce cholesterol and increase the ratio of HDL (“good”) cholesterol to LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Their creamy flesh is also incredibly rich in fiber, antioxidants, folate, and more potassium than bananas to boot. Do keep in mind that avocados are rather high in calories, about 300 per whole fruit. For your everyday health: If you love avocados and make a… Read More

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Viva La Lemons!

Care of Amy Symington Lemons are unquestionably the most versatile fruit known to human kind, used worldwide not only for eating purposes, but also for other vital household remedies as well. It is great for freshening and sanitizing any surface area, removing unwanted arm pit stains from your favourite t-shirt, and is an amazing cleaning agent for all that copper, brass or stainless steel you need looked after.  It is also there to soothe your scratchy throat while simultaneously giving you those show stopping summer highlights you have always dreamed of. In terms of health related areas, the consumption of lemons have been correlated with a variety of beneficial properties. Due to their high vitamin C content they neutralize free radicals and increase iron absorption if eaten in combination with iron rich foods. Due to their high potassium content they have been shown to help with the control of high blood pressure. Other health benefits include reducing the occurrence of kidney stones, phlegm related asthma, constipation and toxins found in the body, as well as aiding in overall digestion. However, most importantly, lemons are the king of all flavour enhancers. They boost any dish’s taste profile without adding… Read More

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Spring Fresh – Garden Peas

  Care of Laura Wright The humble garden pea shows up in heaps of pods at farmer’s markets in the thick of springtime. Its arrival seems to signify the abundant start of Ontario’s growing season. Sure, there were local edibles popping out of the dirt before, but these little babies are something special. Their sweetness is so fresh, the colour so beautifully emerald, and they’re everywhere–perfectly accessible to all. The simple goodness of them eaten fresh from the pod, sauteed with a bit of herbs or whipped into a luscious spread with mint is pretty hard to beat. Wild Roots:  The earliest archaeological finds of peas date from the neolithic era of Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early records of the plant date from 3800–3600 BC in the upper regions of the country. Botanically speaking, pea pods are a fruit since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of the pea plant’s flower. Generally speaking, the pods and inner peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking practices. Green peas were introduced from Genoa to the court of Louis XIV of France in January 1660, and not without fanfare. An allotment of them was presented before… Read More

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How about a date?

Care of Amy Symington The date palm tree is cultivated for its succulently sweet fruit.  Found in dried, fresh, crystal or syrup form its uses are unending. The date fruit is the most widely known use of the date palm tree, however there are an array of additional uses as well.  The tree is also tapped for its sap which is made into sugar and molasses, its leaves are harvested and eaten as vegetables and its seeds are ground and used for bread. Dates are a very good source of potassium and antioxidants, rich in iron, protein and fibre and contain significant amounts of trace minerals like copper, manganese and magnesium.  When consumed they also provide a more stable increase in blood sugar levels than other sweeteners like sugar. Dates are used in many culturally diverse cuisines from Moroccan to Libyan to South Asian.  Anything from couscous dishes, to tagines to curries are fair game and date friendly. Some other delish date delicacies include eggplant “bacon” wrapped dates, almond stuffed dates, date glazed tempeh and fresh dates with cashew cream.  Of course who can forget what dates are most infamous for: sweet treats.  Date nut bread, date squares, date tarts,… Read More

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