Think Fresh: Kamut

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

What the heck is kamut right? Kamut is an ancient form of wheat. Similar to spelt. It pops up in ancient writings such as the Bible(rumored to be the grain Noah kept on the ark). It is high in protein, and very high in selenium. While it is not gluten free, because it is a form of wheat, it is more tolerable to people with wheat sensitivities than many other forms of wheat. It is super easy to cook and delicious! The best part is that…it’s LOCAL! Yes! Grown right here in Canada, it is an Artesian Acres product I bought at a little market in Salmon Arm, BC. So I’ve had this big bag of it for some time and have wondered what to do with it. I have baked with kamut flour before but never used the full grains which look a lot like rice. I had a very hard time finding other recipes for cooking kamut so thought I’d try to whip something up. ¬†Kamut is so shockingly easy to make…ready for it….get a pen….Step 1. Soak grain in water.

That’s it. No step two. You soak it until it softens a bit, overnight or so. I soaked it two nights so that it sprouted. It still retains a nice kind of crunch to it, no mush at all. Once you’ve soaked it, follow this super easy recipe and you will have a delicious risotto-like entree or side dish!

Mushroom Spinach Kamut

Serves 2 entrees or 4 side dishes.

Saute one chopped sweet onion, one clove of garlic and 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until onions begin to soften. Add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and saute until they also start to soften. Stir in 2 cups of soaked and sprouted kamut kernels. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated and broth becomes quite thick, approx 20 mins. Stir in 1/2 cup coarsely shredded parmesan cheese and 4 cups spinach. Stir until spinach wilts, 1 minute. Serve!

Kamut is available at most health food stores. It’s so mild that I think it would turn nicely into a breakfast dish, porridge style. Let me know if you give it a try!

Travel: Okanagan Wineries

Beautiful Mission Hill

We’ve just returned from a beautiful week in the Okanagan. My family rents a house in Kelowna or area every summer and off we go for some much needed beach time. My parents have taken healthy eating and living to a whole new level, one I can only aspire to, so a holiday with my family involves things like a 6am 17km run, fresh fruit and vegetable juice from the juicer every morning, and various sprouted things. I balanced that out by dedicating one meal per day to ice cream, which made Picky Princess VERY pleased. So we’re in detox mode this week. Fun.

We did make several stops at wineries and local farms. I was inspired with lovely new ideas and recipes, that I will be sure to blog about soon. But for now…some eye candy.

Squash growing in the back alleyView from Little Straw Winery

wineries are just so beautiful

Foodie Baby eating freshly picked cherries

Book Review: Cooking Green

We are currently away on holidays in the beautiful Okanagan. I am seriously stunned at how beautiful this country is: a platter of different landscapes to enjoy.

I just finished reading a great and inspiring book that I would highly recommend:¬†Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint In The Kitchen, by Kate Heyhoe. It goes beyond the basic requirements of leaving less of a damaging “cookprint”, namely – shopping locally, eating organic food, buying sustainable food – and suggests ways to take being environmentally responsible in the kitchen to a whole new level. I found it very inspiring. I don’t know that I will ever be able to implement all the ideas, but like eating healthy, little decisions every day can substantially change our impact on the earth. Here are some highlights of the interesting topics she covers:

1. This is an ongoing conversation I have with myself and others…Should I buy organic? Or local? But the local is not organic. But the organic is not local. Which is healthier? Which is better for the environment? Tricky business! Kate suggests that being an Ecovore requires a certain fluidity, and ability to have this ongoing discussion, making decisions as situations are presented. Obviously the ideal would be local organic food, but if you are buying from a small local farm, that may not be certified organic(which is an expensive certification for a small farm) but the food doesn’t have to travel very far…then local is maybe a better choice than organic. Little judgement calls all the time.

2. Eat less meat, more plants – This is an obvious one. I know many people aren’t interested or ready to drop meat completely from their diet, but there is definitely no reason why we shouldn’t eat LESS meat. Maybe for you that means planning one meat free dinner/week. We are not strictly vegetarians but in my family we probably only eat one dinner/week that DOES have meat in it. Interesting fact: The daily food and water resources required to feed one cow exceed the daily amount of milk produced by that cow. A single cow produces 120lbs of waste PER DAY and approx 100 gallons of methane per day. They produce more methan emissions than a car!

3. Small Changes: Switching to a totally local diet = driving 1,000 miles less per year. Replacing red meat and dairy with chicken/fish/eggs for one day per week = driving 760 miles less per year. Switching to vegetables one day per week = driving 1,160 miles less per year. Switching from the average American diet to a vegetable based one = driving 8,000 miles less per year!!!!!!! Can you believe those numbers?

4. Water preservation – Water is a non renewable resource, meaning that the water we have on earth is all the water we will ever have on earth. We cannot produce more of it. This is why we have to be careful not to pollute it and compromise the quality of it. Here is the amount of water required to create a SINGLE serving of the following foods: steak = 2,607 gallons, chicken = 408 gallons, milk = 65 gallons, rice = 36 gallons, lettuce = 6 gallons, tomatoes = 3 gallons. Clearly, reducing our red meat consumption is a great way to reduce our impact on the earth. If you eat one less beef meal each week, you’ll save: 40,600 gallons of water, 70,000 lbs of grain, and prevent the emission of 300,000 lbs of carbon dioxide each year.

5. Food Waste – Americans generate 1 lb of food waste per day for every adult and child. Americans throw out 27% of all food available for consumption. JUST 5% OF THE WASTED FOOD IN THE USA COULD FEED 4 MILLION PEOPLE/DAY. Can you even believe that? This just absolutely horrifies me. While millions of people are dying of starvation, we are destroying the earth with our over-consumption.

There are definitely some regular green practices I am already fully committed to: eating as much local/organic/sustainable food as possible, using only green household cleaners, recycling and buying recycled products, buying food from the bulk bins, shopping at Farmer’s Markets. There are many many more though, that I would like to try to take it to the next level. While Kate offers so many great ideas on how to make changes in the kitchen, here are a few that I think are practical steps that I am going to implement immediately:

1. use passive cooking techniques ie)bringing water to a boil, and then removing it from the heat after a few minutes and letting the very hot water continue to cook things. (where appropriate)

2. more commitment to using small appliances than the oven when possible. More energy efficient.

3. organizing a “small appliance swap”! I think we all have small appliances we don’t use often enough to keep, but just throwing them out is bad for the environment…so…let’s swap! I think my milkshake maker and second coffee maker need to find a new home. Sounds like a fun reason for a party!

4. Using reusable cloth napkins. The washing/drying is less energy than the garbage created from paper ones.

Bottom line: I highly recommend this book and think it is actually do-able, written in a non-judgmental and inspiring way, and totally practical. I really do believe that we change our lives in the small decisions we make every day. I would love to hear your ideas on how to decrease your “cookprint” on the earth!

If you would like to learn more about the topic, check out the book or check out Kate’s website: http://www.newgreenbasics.com

Think Fresh: Quinoa

Quinoa Salad

Native to South America, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a definite superfood! It’s been getting some positive media attention in the last little while, and rightly so! Quinoa looks a lot like rice, that has burst into little curly-ques. It has a wondeful texture, with a little pop and crunch when you eat it.

When I was pregnant with Foodie Baby, I decided to radically alter our diet, in hopes of having a)a natural birth after a dramatic C-Section with Picky Princess and b)the healthiest pregnant body I could possibly have. I read a fabulous book called The Gentle Birth Method by Dr. Gowri Motha. She presented a nutritional plan for having a healthy body and one of the most interesting things I learned is that according to the Standard American Diet(SAD), over 90% of the grain consumed is: wheat. Rice made up almost the entire other 10%. There are SO many amazing, healthy, and delicious grains for us to consume, but many of us just…don’t. Yet we have skyrocketing problems with wheat sensitivity, and she argues, that some of this is simply because we are over exposed to one grain, when we are designed to consume a variety. So I completely eliminated all grain products from my diet, for the duration of the pregnancy, and honestly, it was SHOCKING to me, at how wheat-centered my diet was. Wheat is in everything! Or at least everything convenient! And now I have reintroduced wheat, but try hard not to let it exceed about 25% of the grains in my diet. Quinoa became a new favorite of ours!

Nutritionally, quinoa is second to none! It has a full set of essential amino acids, which makes it a rare vegetarian complete protein. High in fibre, magnesium and iron, quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a great wheat alternative to gluten-sensitive diets.

Quinoa can be used in place of any other grain: pasta, rice, barley. It is great hot or cold, savory or sweet. Picky Princess loves to eat it with almond milk, maple syrup and cinnamon, and Foodie Baby loves it with goat cheese, lemon, garlic, roasted tomatoes and basil.

Tip: Quinoa is coated with something called Saponin. This makes it taste bitter and needs to be rinsed off. So rinse your quinoa well before consuming. The best way to do this is to put it in a large bowl, fill the bowl half way with water and then rub the quinoa between your hands to rub the saponin away. Rinse and repeat until the water becomes mostly clear, which can take several washes.

Here is a super easy and versatile recipe. You can substitute any of the vegetables for others, you can swap cheese and add anything else you like, but it’s a good base. Give it a try!

Quinoa Salad

Prepare quinoa. Bring 4 cups of water to boil and add 2 cups of well rinsed dry quinoa. Simmer until the quinoa curls, approx 15 minutes. Drain any excess water.

In a pan, saute one minced garlic clove with 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes and then pour sauce over the quinoa. Toss to coat. Add the juice of half a lemon.

Stir in two cups of chopped vegetables. This time I used fresh peas, roasted tomatoes and zucchini. Crumble over salad half a cup or so of goat cheese. Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled! This is an easy picnic salad!

I’m Inspired By: Sheree & Dennis

Sheree & Dennis, Gardeners Extraordinare

Let’s by honest…anyone who can grow anything successfully in Calgary should be commended. It is a tricky place to be a gardener, what with random summer hail/snow/wind/rainstorms that blow in, take no prisoners and leave minutes later. Merciless. But my lovely friends(and family thanks to my sister picking a husband with a great family), Sheree and Dennis Iffla, have patiently plodded through this particularly brutal gardening season, and have grown the most beautiful English-style garden. Today they invited us to come and have a tour, and pick anything we wanted! And pick we did! Buckets and buckets of apples, sour cherries, raspberries and lettuce. The plums, pears and black currants are not quite ready. They said we could take anything we picked, and then promptly hopped on ladders to pick for us!

It is this generosity, on top of the hard work and commitment of growing your own food, that is inspiring to me. How beautiful: to work with your hands, patiently wait, and then be utterly willing to invite others into your home and garden to reap the harvest as well. I am inspired by their talent, their patience and their warmth.

I’ve promised Dennis payment: sour cherry jam and apple pie. Small tokens.

I sincerely hope that even though I don’t grow much more than my own herbs, that I will be mindful to invite people into the harvest of my life, around my table, our inner sanctuary. That I would say “here are the fruits of my labor, take and eat.”

Picky Princess with her apple basket

Foodie Baby checking out her harvest

Thank You!

Farmer’s Market Friday

I know. It’s not Friday. However every Friday morning, Sexy Husband and I pack up the girls and head down to my favorite place in the world (or at least my favorite place in my regular little world of Calgary): The Calgary Farmer’s Market! Thankfully, the Market is open all year, but it is definitely a booming place in the summer! Vendors from all over Alberta bring their fresh and colorful wares and I wade through the crowd in a state of blissful giddiness. There are many amazing vendors that, over time, I will have to write about. People who are doing their part to make local food available, to grow organic food, to support green growing. It is multi-cultural. It is fabulous.

We have our own little routine, which has become practically sacred in our house. It goes something like this: upon arrival, Foodie Baby and I head straight for Phil & Sebastians for the best coffee in town(congratulations to them on their recent win of the KRUPS cup of excellence award for the bazillionth year in a row). Sexy Husband takes Picky Princess to the bouncy castle. She jumps with glee while we sit in happy silence with our coffees. Magically, ever week, as we take our last sips, she decides she’s done with bouncing and off we head for “sweet pie” at Simple Simon Pies. She samples a rotation of delicious fruit pies and we hit up our regular stops: fresh organic farm eggs, some kind of new spice mix from Silk Road Spice Merchants, organic bananas from Lunn’s Farm, and whatever other produce that catches our eyes. The energy is spectacular, the air thick with hope that I have what you need and you have what I need. I love it.

In fact, I love it enough to make it a feature to write about. So from here on in, once I return from the Market on Fridays, I will write about the treasures and inspirations of the week. Watch for it: Farmer’s Market Friday.

Markets like this one are an amazing way to buy food that has not travelled very far, by people you can actually get to know and support, and who are passionate about what they do. They are an incredible source of inspiration and usually…great deals. Last I read, Calgary has 17 official Farmer’s Markets, so chances are…wherever you live, there has to be some too!

We are off to the Okanagan for holidays this Friday, so I won’t be at the Market this week… but here are some pics from past visits.

Picky Princess finding some treasures

Phil & Sebastians

Think Fresh: Mini Squash

Mini Squash

Is this not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? I bought a few bags of these mini zucchinis and mini patty pan squashes from the Farmer’s Market. I couldn’t help myself. They were almost too cute to eat, although I’m so glad I did because they have a mild and delicate flavor and cooked so easily, whole, tossed into a ragu of garlic, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. I poured the veggie mix over salmon, on a bed of spinach and it was a super tasty fresh dinner.

Squash is 90% water, so it is a very low cal veggie, which is high in Vitamin A and important elements: magnesium, copper and iron. Its flavor is so mild that it blends nicely with lots of other flavors.

Extra bonus: Even Picky Princess thought they were too adorable to resist.

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