Food of the Month

Totally RADish

Care of Amy Symington Often pushed to the back of the veggie platter, the radish is actually one rad cruciferous vegetable that deserves a little more credit and recognition, so listen up. Radishes come in almost every colour of the rainbow from yellow to red to purple, and the types and uses vary all over the globe.  The most commonly used radish in North American is the red radish; Asian countries are known for their diakon usage, also referred to as Chinese or Japanese radish and/or Mooli; Scandinavians lovvve them some Plum Purple radish; and the Sicily Giant radish, is from, you guessed it, Sicily.  Radishes can be found year round and every season brings different varieties. With that said, come springtime radishes are among the first veggies to be happily harvested.  So happy harvest to you! Radishes, particularly red and purple radishes, are rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin.  This may increase free radical fighting properties, which can decrease chronic inflammatory diseases such as fibrocystic disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and various neurological illnesses.  In addition to reducing inflammation, anthocyanins may also ward off nasty bacterial infections. Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of folate… Read More


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Beautiful Barley

Care of Laura Wright Barley is the oldest domesticated grain in the entire world. It’s been cultivated for ten thousand years! This nutty, chewy, satisfying food is delicious in so many ways. Typically enjoyed in soups throughout the colder months, its heartiness fortifies and warms us up. Definitely an economical and nutritional superstar on that front. Its application isn’t limited to soup alone though. You can add soaked barley to your steel cut oats for a little variation, make it risotto style for a classy dinner, grind it into flour for a fibre boost in your cookies or toss it into a lovely grain salad like I’ve done in the recipe below. Pot vs Pearl: You will generally find two types of barley available in stores. If you are concerned about health properties and prefer whole grains in your diet, reach for the “pot” variety. These grains have only had their tough, outer husk removed. While pearl barley certainly cooks faster, it lacks the nutrition of the grain in its whole form because an additional two layers (the bran and endosperm) are polished off. You may also appreciate the more pronounced toasted and nutty flavour that pot barley has to… Read More


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Maplelous!

Care of Amy Symington What is more Canadian than maple syrup? A thick Quebecois accent, eager beavers, veggie poutine and Canadian Club whisky may all give it a run for its loonies but maple syrup is recognized globally as liquid Canadian candy.  Fact. The Process The province of Quebec alone is responsible for ¾ of the world’s maple syrup sales. The best part? It is a renewable resource that comes from trees. It’s not often that you can say that. The more trees, the more maple syrup too! As they all have equally high starch/sugar content, the 3 main types of trees that are used for maple syrup production or “tapping” as it’s referred to in the industry are:  Sugar Maple, Black Maple and Red Maple. Once they have grown to be 12 inches in diameter, the trees are ready to be tapped every year. Late March to early April is the typical maple syrup season. Like other processes in spring, things thaw and tree sap is no different. As the sap begins to thaw, it also begins to run. This tends to last about 4-6 weeks and is collected either via an “old school” bucket or an… Read More


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Crazy Addictive Cacao

Care of Laura Wright Cacao powder (the more minimally processed version of cocoa powder) is a magical ingredient. It makes people crazy, makes them fall in love and most notably, it makes them crave chocolate non-stop. It comes from the tropical plant theobroma cacao (translates to “food of the gods”), which produces large oval pods with all of the sticky cacao goodness inside. It’s important to seek out the minimally processed cacao powder if you wish to reap all the healthy benefits. Aside from being dark, mysterious, complex and delicious, it has a lot going for it nutritionally. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals: Cacao is one of the best sources of magnesium found in nature! It also has notable amounts of calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur and potassium. It’s a potent antioxidant: In its minimally processed form, cacao contains more antioxidant flavonoids than blueberries, red wine, goji berries and green tea. That’s a whole lot of free radical absorption going on. It can make you pretty amorous: cacao stimulates high levels of serotonin and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that help with regulating mood and helping you feel the good vibes. If you ask me, working more chocolate into the morning… Read More


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Garlic Greatness

Care of Amy Symington     Although often criticized for its stanky breath and garlicky sweat inducing qualities, Allium Sativum, also known as garlic, is definitely worth the potential risk of losing friends. Here is why. It is a prebiotic.  Firstly, what the heck is a “prebiotic”?  Well, it is a non-digestible food that stimulates the growth of good bacteria (bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria) that exists in the small and large intestines. Simply stated, a prebiotic improves the host’s health by improving their metabolism. In turn, this increases the absorption of vitamins and minerals, and reduces the risk of colon cancer and potentially most illnesses. Raw garlic is an example of a prebiotic. It is an immune booster.  When crushed or chewed, garlic releases a compound called allicin that has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, which is why it is often used to combat those nasty winter illnesses. What is even better than that, garlic helps in preventing said illnesses from occurring in the first place. It is also used to fight fungal infections like thrush, combat bacteria related digestive disorders and doubles as a disinfectant. It is good for your heart. Garlic reduces the presence of… Read More


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Celery Root: Dig It!

Care of Laura Wright This knobby, dirty, scraggly brute of a vegetable (also called Celeriac) is one of my favourite culinary delights of the cold weather season. Celery-like shoots emerge above the soil, while the beast-like root vegetable grows beneath the dirt. As you may probably guess, it has a detectable celery note, but also a creamy sweetness that reminds me of new potatoes. It’s dreamy as a vegetable puree or worked into soups, even slicing it up real thin and tossing it into salads brings an earthy note of freshness. Treat It Right: You can generally find celery root at farmer’s markets around this time of year at a very reasonable price point. If your local grocery store has a decent seasonal vegetable selection, it may be stocked there as well. Look for large beige-white, turnip-sized bulbs with a bunch of craters and roots near the root vegetable section. Once you get that baby home and you’re ready to cook, give it a good scrub and trim off the top and bottom ends so that you have opposing flat sides. From here, put one of the flat sides face down on the cutting board. Now you… Read More


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Crushing on Cranberries

Care of Laura Wright Plump and tart, cranberries are synonymous with fall. Along with apples, root veggies, pumpkins, pears and squash, their deep burgundy hue points to cooler days, warm sweaters and falling leaves. I see plenty of recipe applications using the sweetened dried version of these antioxidant powerhouses, but fresh ones? They’re less commonly used and possibly under-appreciated for sure. I thought they deserved some love so I provoked their sour sweetness in a decadent (but still wholesome) breakfast treat. Other than providing a gorgeous and healthy topping for spicy and intense pancakes, cranberries certainly have a lot of great attributes going for them. Some Back Story: Cranberry bushes are native to eastern regions of Canada and the United States. They have a long history of medicinal use in Native American populations ranging from prevention of kidney stones to the belief that ingestion of the berries purified the blood. Additionally, a paste made from cranberries was applied to the skin as a healing salve to treat arrow wounds. It is one of three fruits that can trace its roots specifically to North American soil (blueberries and concord grapes are the other two). Sniffles? Take some Vitamin C(ranberry):… Read More


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Be a Plum Bum!

Care of Amy Symington There is absolutely nothing like sinking your teeth into a perfectly ripe, sweet and succulent plum; the syrupy tart juice dribbling down your cheeks and all over your hands. It is inevitably messy business, but more than worth the sticky clean-up. Before they become the most flawless looking, shiny, smooth and miniature sized rear ends, they are perfectly picked from small plum trees or shrubs anywhere from the month of May up until September, depending upon where you are located in the world. Prunus domestica, its well suited Latin name literally means “plum tree of the house” as it was one of the first fruits to become domesticated. The stone fruit is spawn from the beautiful, but somewhat thorny pinkish white flowers formed by the tree in early spring.  A spectral of colours from white to green to yellow to red to the most popular bluish purple are available for edible appreciating. Well known for its high dietary fibre content and natural laxative effects, the plum, or prune in its dried form, is also rich in potassium, fluoride and iron.  It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K and a very good… Read More


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Chia Super Powers

Care of Laura Wright These tiny seeds, like little dark grey or white poppy seeds, hold a lot of power within their unassuming exterior. Sourced primarily from the Amazon basin and in the south of Mexico, it is believed that Aztec warriors would consume chia seeds before going into battle to enhance their endurance. That sounds like some potency right there, right? I think we can all agree that a little more power and vigour to help us rise up to the adventure of life is a great thing. Chia seeds can cover all the bases with that, trust. OH-megas! These seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds (a known vegetarian source of omega-3s) and as a bonus, contain much higher levels of antioxidants, improving their shelf life greatly. You don’t have to grind them to enjoy the benefits either (like flax). The seeds form a gel when digested (and when added to water), making for a slow breakdown of carbohydrates and other nutrients within. Working more of these little seeds into your diet could mean a big boost in cardiovascular, immune and skin health. Stay Hydrated: Chia seeds can absorb up to nine times their… Read More


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Green TEAriffic

Care of Amy Symington To the Chinese, the health benefits of green tea is ancient history, quite literally. Only in the recent past has Western culture jumped on the green tea bandwagon and for more than legit reasons. Green tea contains a type of anti-oxidant rich polyphenol called catechin that has been shown to have various health benefits relating to disease prevention. We are talking the big bad diseases here too; namely type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and some cancers. There is consistent epidemiological data that suggests green tea helps to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol), and inhibits cancer cell growth as well as reduces the formation of blood clots, minimizing heart attack and stroke risk. All of which helps to fight against the risk of obtaining the big bad diseases listed above. It has also been shown that green tea extract is beneficial for whole-body metabolism, particularly by increasing fat oxidation. The most effective time for green tea’s fat burning powers is when the body is at rest and has been fasted (i.e. right in the morning). Interestingly, due to this increased rate of fat burning, researchers from… Read More


Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition