Food of the Month

High-Vibing with Hemp

Care of Laura Wright Hemp seeds are teeny, nutty and deeply nutritious. They come in hulled and un-hulled varieties and are often labelled as “hemp nuts”. I generally reach for the un-hulled as I find their ease of use preferable (the hulls are quite tough). They’re a tasty addition to any salad, bowl of oatmeal or smoothie for sure. The crop itself seems to raise a few questions because of the natural linkage to marijuana, but have no fear. You won’t be tripping out after you eat some greens adorned with the stuff. The crop itself also yields edible oils and fibre for paper and cloth. Fun fact: the original Levi’s jeans were made from hemp-based fabric, but the incredible durability of the product didn’t translate to economic viability for the brand! Let’s talk about THC: Both marijuana and hemp seeds come from different strains of the Cannabis plant genus, a flowering annual herb. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the naturally occurring substance in the plant (the flowers) that is responsible for the “high” effect in recreational marijuana. The level of THC in the dried flowers can reach upwards of 20 percent. It’s important to note that there is… Read More

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Pomegranate’s Punch

  Care of Amy Symington Pomegranates were originally found to grow in Middle Eastern countries.  However, once its bursting beads of flavour were discovered elsewhere in the world, its cultivation spread like wildflower to Asian and Mediterranean countries, Africa and most recently can be found here, in our North American grocery stores and corner markets. The heart of this healthy matter Pomegranates have a parade of potential health bennies; the most commonly known being its super antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties.  This is thanks to the plethora of polyphenols present, specifically “ellagitannins” which are found in the fruit’s tannins.  Pomegranates are also high in vitamin C and fibre, both of which one can never get enough of health wise.  Some preliminary research has also shown pomegranates to have a positive impact on heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol, foam cells (which make up the fatty streaks present in plaque in our arteries) and the arterial lesions that lead to heart disease. A great deal more research on this tart treat is currently underway including clinical trials on prostate and colon cancer, diabetes and the common cold.  Stay tuned to your favourite legit nutrition journal for… Read More

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Food of the Month: Turmeric is Tur-Mendous

Care of Laura Wright The bright yellow powder derived from fresh turmeric roots is most commonly recognized in curry powder blends and bright yellow American mustard. It is most often accessible in powdered form, but did you know that it belongs to a perennial family of plants similar to ginger? Fresh roots of this rhizomatous plant look alarmingly similar to the popular tea time staple. It certainly leaves its mark everywhere, a vibrant and deep yellow hue. In the realm of healthy and virtuous living, it leaves a distinctive mark as well. It’s a highly effective and totally natural disease fighting agent, mostly due to the presence of more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds. Curcumin, an antioxidant that also fights inflammation, gives the spice its saturated yellow appearance. Because of the antioxidant’s content in the spice, regular consumption may aid in prevention of heart disease and arthritis. It’s also applied as a salve for wounds in some parts of the world. At one time, bandages were saturated with the spice in India to speed up the healing process. Consumption of this wonder spice may prove to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well. In India, where turmeric… Read More

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Food of the Month: Ginger the Great

Care of Karen Soper Ginger grows in many tropical areas such as southern China, Japan, West Africa, and the Caribbian Islands. Canada wasn’t meant to grow ginger, however with our extreme cold weather we are grateful to consume this tropical root. It is very warming, energizing and it stimulates circulation, all the things we need in the next several months in Canada.  Ginger is commonly used to treat nausea and motion sickness, plus it’s found to be very helpful with the nausea of pregnancy.  It also acts as a digestive stimulant and therefore can be used to improve weak digestion.  In fact, ginger actually contains compounds that resemble digestive enzymes so it can help to digest protein rich meals. Try boiling a few slices of ginger root in 2 cups of water and drinking 30 minutes before a meal.  Some researchers in Australia studied ginger’s thermal effects and discovered it can raise body temperature and assist the body with weight loss due to its ability to cause sweating. And if we haven’t convinced you yet, ginger is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, potassium and vitamin A.  Plus it contains antioxidants called gingerols. Read More

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Food of the Month: Glamorous Garlic

Care of Karen Soper The Stinking Rose, a famous restaurant on Columbus Avenue in San Fransisco, California is filled with dishes all made with garlic. In fact – they claim to “season their garlic with food”! If you have ever been there you’ll know how compelling the dishes are and how the culinary enjoyment of a restaurant filled with garlic dishes is truly a novel experience. However famous San Fransisco’s Stinking Rose restaurant, the use of garlic is not so new to the world. Garlic has been used for thousands of years for both its medicinal and culinary properties, and in almost 2010 it is still touted as a powerful home remedy for colds and a must-have for quick pasta entrees. It is a bulbous plant of the family genus allium, in which there are approximately 500 members, including other well known plants like leeks, shallots and onions. Allium sativum basically means “cultivated garlic”. Garlic can be used in many ways – raw or cooked; whole, crushed or sliced. Raw garlic is stronger than cooked, and minced garlic stronger than sliced. Roasted whole garlic has a totally different taste to crushed raw garlic. The “active” component of garlic, that pungent… Read More

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Kale: Real Fast, Real Food

Care of Karen Soper and Lisa Pitman In the realm of fast food there is a plethora of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. We can literally go to every street corner and find something to eat. Books have been written about our “Fast Food Nation”, scrapping and devouring our land resources, contributing to epidemic proportions of disease and illness, putting an entire food system into an inequitable state, and yet food to us must be fast. Must it be real? It is clear that the foods I am talking about are not really food. They are derived, manufactured, concocted, packaged and then digested. Calories, well we know the sad story there. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can choose it – plant based foods that are easy to cook. Kale, as so many healthy, life-giving plant based foods are, is an example of a real fast food. This amazing curly-leafed, dark green vegetable is a member of the same family as cabbage, collards and brussel sprouts. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, B6, riboflavin, and manganese (an important part of superoxide dismutase – the powerful antioxidant enzyme). Kale provides more nutritional… Read More

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition Vegan & Vegetarian Cooking Tips

Food of the Month: Mung Beans

Care of Karen Soper and Lisa Pitman Exploring different kinds of beans is something that most likely happens as the typical vegetarian expands their tastes and cooking repertoire. For some, they have been a staple for a long time, for others they are new green little gems. Originally cultivated in India and later migrating to China, mung beans have been a staple in the east for thousands of years. However travelled, today the tried and true nutrient value and nutrient quality of mung beans is an undisputable asset to the western vegetarian diet. Mung beans have a bright (Shrek-like) green husk, with a yellowish flesh inside. They are small and round, about the size of pearl barley. Found in bulk food stores they are inexpensive too. Some common ways to eat mung beans include cooking them whole, with or without their skins, in soups or stews (much like lentils). Once cooked, they are very soft and smooth, presenting an almost creamy texture and sweet taste. Used raw they can be sprouted and thrown into salads for a nutritional boost. These beans are easy to digest, an excellent source of plant protein, low in fat, low in sodium, high in fibre… Read More

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Food of the Month: Jump for Jicama

Care of Lisa Pitman April is a challenging month in Toronto, not as difficult as February mind you, but there is a tangible anticipation in the air that we will soon be able to enjoy fresh, local produce. However, our seasonal markets don’t open until the end of May or beginning of June. So, what do you eat while you patiently wait for the warmer weather to nurture our fields full of fabulous local food? Why not discover a new ingredient that you might pass over when farm fresh produce is readily available? One ingredient you might consider is jicama (pronounced hee-ka-ma). Over the last month I have been amazed by the number of people who have not experienced the unique flavour and texture of jicama. It is a globe-shaped, root vegetable cultivated in Mexico. Jicama has a brown, parchment-like skin and white flesh. The texture of jicama is incredibly crisp and refreshing, somewhat similar to an apple or water chestnut. In Mexico, slices of jicama are often enjoyed raw, topped with lime juice and a sprinkle of chili powder. While jicama is not going to join the ever-growing roster of superfoods, it does have a unique nutrient profile that… Read More

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Food of the Month: Dandelion Greens

Care of Lisa Pitman and Nimisha Raja Do you just walk right past those green leafy veggies in the produce section? Does the mention of dandelions conjure up images of endless digging in the garden to rid the pesky weed? Let’s stop and take a second look. Dandelion greens are some of the most nutritious greens you can consume (but get them from your farmers’ market or produce section unless you know for sure the ones in your garden are safe to eat: aka free of lawn pesticides, no dogs, cats or other animals in the area that may have done their business there). Some people shy away from these super healthy greens because of the bitter taste. But fear not – you can mix them into a green smoothie and use fruit to cover up the bitterness, or lightly sauté them in a tablespoon of olive oil and crushed garlic. Add a bit of soy sauce or tamari and a squeeze of lemon and the bitterness will be pleasantly palatable. Also, choose younger (smaller leaves/stalks) dandelion, and it will be milder than the more mature variety. The bitterness is what makes dandelion a wonderful tonic for your liver and… Read More

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition Vegan & Vegetarian Cooking Tips

Food of the Month: Love Your Lentils

Care of Amy Symington Lentils are a hearty way to fuel your body!  Part of the pulse family, they’re packed with fibre, Folate, Vitamin B1, iron, protein and are brimming with essential amino acids. They come in almost every colour of the rainbow from French Green to Masoor Crimson Red and they have even more culinary uses. From lentil burgers to hearty stews, stuffed pastries to pasta sauces and succulent side salads, the delicious list goes on and on. In terms of health benefits, there are a plenty! From all that glorious fibre they can aid in lowering cholesterol levels and help to maintain blood sugar levels, which is phenomenal in the prevention and treatment of heart disease and/or diabetes. Consuming them during pregnancy is great for the ladies with the babies in obtaining sufficient amounts of Folate needed to keep thoughts of neural tube defects out of their minds. The high levels of iron in this tasty pulse also keep any concerns for iron deficiencies at bay. Teamed up with a grain or rice dish, one can obtain a meal that is complete in all the essential amino acids that our bodies need but don’t produce. Also, since the… Read More

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition