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Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

If you seek to better understand urban foraging, in all its intricacies, Metis herbalist and educator Lori Snyder can show you the path.

But when it comes to urban foraging, what exactly is on the menu? Think: wild plants and weeds growing in the city or suburbs that you could easily come across while out for a stroll.

“We need to be mindful of creating foraging corridors in our cities,” Snyder explains. “How can we be put all this really fantastic food and medicine in our backyards, back alleys, schoolyards and on the edges of parks? We could be growing tons of food that would also benefit insects, birds and other creatures. You have to reconsider what is in your garden that you didn’t realize you could eat, like dandelions and horsetail — stuff we think of as weeds, but our ancestors ate.”

While Snyder points out that there are some potent plants that could do major damage if you’re unfamiliar with them, the majority of the edible and medicinal ones can be found in city parks and right outside our front doors — and each comes with its own unique flavour and texture that we should teach ourselves to acclimate to.

“We’re all about sweetness and the sugar and why is that?,” she muses. “It’s probably because we’re not cultivating enough sweetness in our life. Very gently I remind people that sugar is a colonized food — it actually has a horrible history involving slavery. So here we are eating this part of history that is really very dark. So now I educate my palate about different flavours that aren’t so common in our diet, but were common in our diet once because they’re the wild foods our ancestors ate.”

We recently chatted with Snyder about her urban foraging journey, the meaning of food sovereignty and the one woman who influenced her life’s work.

Related: The Dark Side of Trendy Superfoods (and What You Can Do to Help)

Tell us about the path that led to your journey as an herbalist and educator.

I was born and raised in Squamish, just outside of Vancouver. Where my parents built their house was the beginning of a housing development and behind our home was an incredible forest. We had all kinds of wild animals coming into our yard – like bears and stags. Our next door neighbours who bought the lot beside us were Danish and Irish. My sense of Mrs. [Maude] Bruun, because she was from Ireland, was that she didn’t know the plants that were growing here on this continent. What she would do is walk us kids up through the back trails and introduce us to the cottonwood tree, the salmonberry, the miner’s lettuce, the birch tree — all the incredible species and diversity of plants that grow in this part of the world.

When I do teachings I’m always sharing more pathways for people to discover. [The documentary] My Octopus Teacher shows us that the world around us is always in service of teaching us how to be as two-leggeds. What I’m seeing is that we have moved away from our true way of being on the planet. So I’m really grateful for Mrs. Bruun for imprinting that introduction. Once we start to learn to identify plants and other creatures, we get more curious and want to learn more about them. Once I get to know who they are [the plants], then it’s about ‘can I eat you or use you for medicine?’ Although I don’t like that word ‘use’ — it’s more ‘how can I get in relationship with you so that I can honour the gifts you bring.’

In Indigenous cultures, we didn’t have anything written — it was all oral. It was about using all of our senses so that we understood the world. I didn’t grow up knowing about my Metis history and ancestry. We could ask our own selves, how have I been colonized away from this deep relationship my ancestors have carried since the beginning of time? We’re talking about urban foraging — the reason that is starting to happen [more often now] is because we’re getting more curious [about the land we live on]. It’s either ego-centric or eco-centric. That’s what we’ve been – we’ve been so self-absorbed and distracted by entertainment that we haven’t even noticed someone has been cutting down the forest behind us.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

What are some common cross-Canada plants that are edible and/or medicinal that many of us aren’t even aware of?

Stinging Nettles [pictured above] are an amazing plant. They are hard to find in Vancouver because we get rid of it — because people think it stings and it’s a weed. But when you take the time to learn about her you realize she’s a superfood. It’s got tons of vitamins and minerals — and it’s so delicious when you cook her, it’s unbelievable. You can get fibres made with her, you can harvest the seeds and it’s considered an adaptogen. It’s also great for the prostate gland and inflammation – and this is just a snapshot of what she can do. The other piece that is so important is that she’s a host plant for five different species of butterfly here in this region. When we don’t [take the time to] understand the native plants, we destroy their habitat.  [Stinging nettle] tastes earthy and woodsy. It’s such a unique flavour.

Saskatoon/Serviceberry we can find across the country. [They resemble blueberries and are both sweet and nutty like almonds in flavour. They’re also high in fibre, protein and antioxidants.]

Strawberries – oh my goodness, what an incredible medicine they are! They help regulate our menstruation — they’re good for cramping. What are us women taking? We’re taking pharmaceuticals which can be hugely detrimental to our health and can have side effects, but can also stay in the body because so many of them are fat-based. Plants are water-soluble, so they move through the body.

Purslane is [a green, leafy vegetable] like a succulent and it’s crunchy. It’s so good for the brain and, of course, there are a ton of vitamins and minerals.

Oxeye Daisy — her leaf is out of this world [delicious] and indescribable. To be able to add her to your salads [or desserts]  would be amazing. The weeds outside our door just offer so much.

Rosehips — now here’s a plant people could be looking for right now all across the continent. [pictured above] They’re abundant, go harvest them. They are beautiful and high in vitamin C, iron and zinc. There’s your coffee right there — a nice stimulus that is good for the heart and good for the muscles and repairing collagen. And she taste beautiful as tea, syrup, jelly or jam.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

Can you speak to food sovereignty and its link to injustice in the food system?

Food sovereignty appears to me to be political in its design. When you kill off all the buffalo or chop down the forest you impact Indigenous communities’ ability to feed themselves. We are not children asking for handouts. We are strong, capable people who can feed ourselves as we have done prior to the arrival of a new order. We see this tactic again and again all over the planet. All people need to take back their responsibility in their relationship to the land which feeds and nourishes us. We might consider growing our own foods, sharing the bounty, saving the seeds, teaching our children this ancient art of growing food. Not only do we grow food, but we grow a living ecosystem around us that feeds all life. Let’s deal ourselves back into the web of life and drastically reduce our food footprint by transporting food all over the planet. We can do this — take the power back and have sovereignty again for all nations all over the planet.

I don’t want anyone having power over me. I want my autonomy. I want sovereignty in how I’m eating, I want sovereignty in the choices I make. I don’t want to be a consumer, I want to be a citizen. We are consuming because we think we’re not enough. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Let’s wake up, my friends.

Related: Vegetable Garden Planners to Help You Grow All Year Round

What is the biggest takeaway you hope people have from your work?

We’ve been colonized away from nature and for us to really cultivate our reverence and gratitude and know that we’re just part of the web, I have this responsibility. I’ve had people tell me they look at the plants everywhere they walk now… that they’re seeing the world differently now… and of course it sets them on a culinary exploration. It opens you up to all these amazing possibilities.

Want to learn more about plants and urban foraging? Lori Snyder recommends:

The book called Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The braiding of sweetgrass involves three strands — scientific knowledge, Indigenous ways of knowing and plant wisdom. [Kimmerer] refers to the plants and animals as our older brothers and sisters which, to me, makes complete sense because they were here before we ever arrived. If we look at Indigenous ways of knowing, so much of that comes from the land and the animals.

There’s also a beautiful book called The Wild Wisdom of Weeds: 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival by Katrina Blair. Wild weeds are essential for our human survival. I take so much [knowledge] from others that are sharing this important way of being.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Photo of Lori Snyder courtesy of Belinda White at Apple Star Photo; plant photos courtesy of Getty Images

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Sugar Detox: Nutritionist Explains How to Reset Your System (And Fight Cravings!)

Although some cleanses rely on fasting and calorie restriction as the primary focus, that often isn’t the healthiest approach. The main aspect to focus on during a sugar detox is keeping the body well fed and hydrated. Sugar imbalances hormones, mood, energy, blood sugar and suppresses the immune system. It’s well known that sugar feeds bad bacteria, and it has even been compared to cocaine because it’s so addictive—yikes!

It’s now time to crush that sugar habit once and for all. Follow this 3-Day Sugar Detox and you will start feeling the effects immediately.

What to Focus On:

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Keeping the body properly hydrated encourages oxygen to flow freely throughout the body. This allows you to be more attentive, alert and focused. Water itself is a powerful detoxifier because it assists the kidneys and colon to eliminate waste. Hydration means drinking water (not coffee, caffeinated teas or energy drinks). Although these drinks are comprised of water, they can also be dehydrating for the body. Drink 6-8 glasses (250mL) of water per day. Don’t drink water with meals because it dilutes stomach acid and leads to poor digestion. Add a squeeze of lemon into your water for added benefits and some flavour.

Related: 10 Foods That Can Help Aid Digestion

2. Protein & Fat Are Your Friends

Eating tons of sugar creates a cycle of low blood sugar and intense “hanger” (hungry + angry). One way to break the cycle, besides eliminating sugar, is to eat meals that contain tons of good protein and fat (nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, etc). Protein and fat are more difficult to digest, making you feel full for longer periods of time.

3. Taste the Rainbow

Focus on eating colourful foods. When you eat vegetables and fruits in a rainbow-bright assortment of colours, you are getting a whole array of antioxidants and phytonutrients that all have specific jobs to keep the body healthy, skin vibrant and eyes strong. Again, this detox is not about deprivation, so when you’re hungry, eat! Just make vegetables the star of the plate.

Related: A Nutritionist Reveals 10 Best Natural Foods for Dewy, Glowing Skin

4. Prepare Yourself

The key to any good detox is to be prepared. Look over the menu below and see which ingredients you need to buy, and which foods you need to prep ahead of time. Prepping lunches the night before is a great way to save time in the morning. It’s only 3 days—you can do this!

3-Day Sugar Detox Plan:


Day 1

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Celery, Cucumber & Kale Smoothie
*Add a scoop of protein powder or nut butter to increase fat and protein content
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Chia Pudding Cup
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Salmon and Greens with Cumin Dressing
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Hummus with Sliced Carrots, Cucumbers & Celery
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts with Wild Rice, Artichoke & Kale Salad
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

Day 2

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Blueberry Ginger Kale Smoothie
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Handful Roasted Spiced Almonds
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Thai Glazed Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Apple with 2 Tablespoons Almond Butter
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Oh My Chickpea Goodness Burger (no bun) with Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

sheet plan chicken dinner with sweet potatoes and fennel


Day 3

Wake Up: Drink Lemon Water (250mL)
Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Morning Snack: Handful of Strawberries and ¼ cup Almonds
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Lunch: Citrus Roasted Tilapia with Greek Quinoa Salad
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Afternoon Snack: Guacamole with Sliced Veggies
Water Break: Drink Water (250mL)
Dinner: Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggie Dinner
Water Break: Hot Water with Lemon

Looking for more healthy recipe inspiration? Here’s how a nutritionist meal preps every Sunday, plus 20 healthy meal prep ideas to get you through the week ahead!

This is the Right Way to Freeze Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

Whether you stocked up on too many fresh vegetables at the market or your summer vegetable garden is growing wild, I am here to show you how to properly freeze your vegetables and herbs. There are a few simple steps you have to take to ensure they will stay vibrant, fresh and full of flavour. It will also give them a much longer shelf life than if you just placed the veggies and herbs straight into the freezer. Just be sure to use ripe produce. OK — let’s get freezing!

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

Step 1: Chop Vegetables and Herbs

If you’re planning to use the veggies or herbs straight from the freezer as a side dish or stirred right into your pot or pan, I recommend chopping them into bite-sized pieces first.

Step 2: Blanch Vegetables

Blanching is an important step to freezing fresh vegetables as it will stop enzyme actions that result in a loss of colour and flavour. This will also clean the vegetables. This step is not required for herbs. To blanch, simply bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and drop in the vegetables for 2 to 4 minutes. The timing will depend on the type of vegetable being blanched. For example broccoli and asparagus will be on the shorter end, whereas carrots will take a bit longer.

Related: Time for a Pasta Maker? (And 9 Other Kitchen Essentials You Deserve Right Now)

Step 3: Shock Vegetables

Once the vegetables are blanched, immediately strain and submerge them into an ice bath. This will halt the cooking process so the vegetables do not cook any further and it’ll keep them vibrant. This step is not required for herbs.

Step 4: Dry and Portion Vegetables and Herbs

Strain the vegetables from the ice bath and transfer them onto a kitchen towel to dry. Place them on a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 60 minutes. Portion them into desired freezer bags and label with the packaged date. Transfer back to the freezer and use when needed! Vegetables will stay fresh for up to 12 months. For herbs, transfer them to an ice cube tray and fill with water. This way they are ready to go for soups, sauces and stews.

Related: The Ultimate Herb Guide: Varieties and Best Uses

Looking for more sanity-saving kitchen tips? Here’s how to organize your Tupperware drawer once and for all, plus the best way to prevent freezer burn for good.

How to Make Vietnamese Bun Cha, The Rice Noodle Salad Your Lunch Bowl is Craving

This vibrant rice noodle salad boldly features Vietnamese-spiced pork patties, thin rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs, spring rolls and a salty-sweet sauce. It’s the lunch bowl you’ll be returning to again and again. The best part? You can meal prep all the components on the weekend, pack them up and enjoy throughout the week. You’ll be the envy of your co-workers!

Vietnamese Noodle Bowls (Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio)

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Pork Patties
1 lb ground pork (use regular or lean for the most flavour, not extra-lean)
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lemongrass paste
1 Tbsp honey

Nuoc Cham Dressing
½ cup warm water
¼ cup honey
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
1 small red chili pepper, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced

Noodle Bowl
Approx. 4 cups cooked rice noodles
4 large (or 8 small) cooked spring rolls, cut into small pieces
1 lettuce head (like Boston), with some leaves intact, some shredded
1 large red pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
approx. ½ cup chopped, unsalted peanuts
large bunch fresh cilantro, for garnish
large bunch fresh mint, for garnish
limes, quartered, for garnish

Directions:

Pork Patties
1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and use your hands to mix to make sure ingredients are well combined.

2. Use a 3-tablespoon cookie scoop to make 16 patties, flattening them slightly with your hands.

3. Place patties on a plate, covered in the fridge, until ready to cook.

4. Pre-heat a non-stick frying pan (preferably one with griddle marks) over medium heat.

5. Cook patties until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 160˚F.

6. If not using straight away, set patties aside to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Nuoc Cham Dressing
1. Whisk all ingredients in a small jug until combined. Some honey will produce a dressing that’s a little cloudy – that’s fine! Set aside until using (can be refrigerated).

Noodle Bowl Assembly 
1. Gently reheat pork patties and spring rolls in a slow oven or microwave.

2. Line the bowls with one large lettuce leaf each.

3. Add shredded lettuce, cooked noodles, vegetables, pork patties and spring rolls.

4. Sprinkle over peanuts, cilantro and mint.

5. Serve with the lime quarters and dressing on the side and allow people to season with these to taste.

Tip: You can prepare all ingredients in advance and simply assemble when you’re ready to eat. For an amazing desk lunch, pack separate containers with noodles, vegetables, dressing and pork patties/spring rolls, and simply assemble for a meal to remember.

Here, we reveal the healthiest meal-prep lunches that won’t get soggy, plus our best no-heat lunch ideas to avoid that dreaded office microwave line.

7 Healthy Food Mistakes That Are Making You Bloated

It’s happened to many of us: you pride yourself on eating healthy – you drink superfood smoothies, eat dark leafy greens or a hearty chickpea salad, and still, somehow, a swollen belly pops out, forcing you to unbutton your pants and sit in bloated discomfort. Bloating isn’t as surprising when you consume foods you know aren’t good for you, but it can be an incredibly frustrating feeling when you do your best to eat healthy.

The gut is made up of billions of microflora that maintain your health – they support the immune system, help with weight loss, prevent disease and uplift your mood. Bloating is usually associated with poor digestion, bad diet, and an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria in the gut, but sometimes even healthy eating habits can lead to that unwanted protruded belly. Here are the top seven healthy culprits triggering a bloated tummy.

1. Cruciferous Veggies

It’s common knowledge that cruciferous veggies, such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are some of the most nutritious and antioxidant-rich foods, but they also have a bad rap for inducing a bloated belly and embarrassing gas. These veggies contain raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate that passes through the digestive system without being broken down. When it reaches the large intestine, bacteria feed on it, releasing gas and causing a bloated belly.

This isn’t a reason to remove these veggies from your diet altogether. Sometimes lightly steaming or cooking these vegetables make them more digestible and easier to chew, so they can break down further. Populating the gut with good bacteria through fermented foods like kimchi, kefir or sauerkraut can also help.

2. Superfood Smoothies

Smoothies are an easy way to get powerhouse vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and fibre all in one quick drink – but, sometimes when all of these ingredients combine together, a distended belly is the result. For some, combining fruit and protein or fruit and fat is a digestive nightmare.

To make your smoothie more gut-friendly, try adding fermented protein, fermented greens powder, kefir, dairy-free coconut yogurt or digestive spices like ginger and turmeric.

3. Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit

Everyone knows this rhyme because beans, like chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and soybeans, are notorious for causing bloating and gas. Many vegans and vegetarians subsist on beans as an essential plant-based protein source. They’re also packed with heart-healthy fibre, minerals and vitamins, making them an optimal choice for any healthy eater. But, like cruciferous veggies, beans also contain raffinose, an oligosaccharide that remains undigested until it reaches the colon, when gas-producing bacteria feed on it, and voila, the bloat and gas duo begin.

Luckily, soaking dried beans overnight helps to reduce the gassiness. Cook them with seaweeds like kelp or kombu to increase their digestibility further.

4. Refreshing Watermelon

Watermelon may be a refreshing summertime fruit, but it’s also a bloating nightmare for some. You think you’re being healthy by skipping out on sugary dessert and opting for this juicy treat instead, but sadly, you may end up in a post-meal bloat-fest. Watermelon contains a variety of short-chain fermentable carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the gut and then fermented by bacteria, causing unwanted abdominal bloating.

Try fruits like pineapple or papaya instead, which contain natural enzymes that help with digestion.

5. Whole Healthy Grains

Whole grains like whole wheat, spelt, kamut, rye and barley can be found in salads, wraps, bread and pasta. These fibre-rich grains help eliminate waste and toxins from the body, but they also contain gluten and fermentable carbs like fructans. If there’s an underlying gluten sensitivity, which many people have, these gluten grains can cause mild to severe abdominal pain and bloating. The gas-producing bacteria in the colon will feast on the fructans, also leading to bloating and unwanted gas.

Switch to gluten-free recipes (check out these 30 delicious gluten-free dinner ideas) and grains like quinoa, rice or gluten-free oats as a healthy alternative that will beat the bloat. Or, try spelt, wheat or kamut in a sourdough or sprouted bread to increase the digestibility.

6. Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are the base ingredients of most dishes, adding flavour and also immune support, but, like other foods on this list, they contain fructans that poorly pass through the small intestine and are then fermented by gas-producing bacteria in the colon, leading to bloating and flatulence.

Switch to other alliums like chives, or the green tops of scallions and leeks that are easier to digest. Use different flavours to build your dish like ginger, cumin or turmeric.

7. Drinking Too Much Water During Meals

Most people are dehydrated and, in an effort to consume more water, drink lots of fluids during meals. Drinking while eating actually dilutes important digestive juices, so food doesn’t get digested properly, which leads to bloating. Slowly sipping small amounts of fluids during a meal, drinking before eating or at least 30-60 minutes after a meal will help prevent bloating.

Not everyone will experience bloating from these healthy foods, but if you feel the bloat coming on, it’s usually a sign your gut needs some love and support. Remember to eat fermented foods full of good bacteria (think kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut), try a probiotic or eat a low FODMAP diet that limits bloat and gas-producing foods, like the ones mentioned above.

Looking for more gut-friendly tips and recipes? Here are 30 Tasty Ways to Eat More Fermented Foods along with 15 Flavour-Packed Foods to Boost Your Gut Health.

Breakfast Skillet with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

It’s Saturday morning in Toronto and the first thing that comes to mind as I open my eyes is, “Wow. I’m hungover.” The second thing is, “I want brunch… STAT.” If you live in Toronto, you know that grabbing brunch can sometimes be a three-hour endeavor, and it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere with more than four people. If you do, you know you’ll be waiting. And after a full night of drinks, you’re body does not want to wait to be nourished. Hanger kicks in.

Through my frustration, I decided that I should be making more brunches at home. That being said, cooking with a hangover isn’t always the most pleasant experience. Those are the times when I concoct my one-pot breakfast… skillet. It’s always a mish mash of what I’ve got in the fridge or pantry, with the addition of some eggs.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-6

This recipe is one of my favourites. Sautéed mushrooms and wilted, garlicky spinach are the perfect (and quickest) accompaniments to eggs with a runny yolk. Yes, there are a ton of other great ingredients that can be used as well, like potatoes, corn, beans, zucchini, chorizo… The list goes on. But this is what I just happened to have in my fridge one day and now I continue to go back to this combination.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-7

Breakfast Skillet with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
350 g crimini and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/3” thick
3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2-3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
100 g baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
6-8 eggs
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Toasted sourdough grain bread or bread of choice

888_spinach-mushroom-skillet-directions

Directions:
1. Over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a tight fitting lid.
2. In batches, sauté the mushrooms. Make sure not to crowd the pan so the mushrooms crisp up evenly.
3. Sauté for 4 minutes, flipping the mushrooms halfway through and seasoning with salt and fresh black pepper, to taste.
4. Add more butter and olive oil as needed for the second batch of mushrooms. Remove from the pan as well after seasoning.
5. Add a bit more olive oil and butter to the pan and toss in the spinach and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
6. Add the mushrooms back into the pan and create pockets for the eggs. Crack an egg into each pocket and cover immediately with the lid.
7. Let the eggs cook for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes. Do not lift that lid! This ensures the egg whites cook from the top as well as the bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
8. Crumble goat cheese over top and serve with toasted bread.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-4

Absolutely Addictive Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Cauliflower’s reign continues with this amazing recipe. This healthier version of the classic pub favourite is starting to pop up in restaurants all over the place. Try it and you’ll be surprised by how “meaty” cauliflower really is.

cauliflower-buffalo-wings-vegan-recipe-2

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (can substitute for gluten-free rice flour)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp of paprika
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
1 cup Frank’s red hot sauce

cauliflower-buffalo-wings-vegan-recipe

Directions:

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 450°F. Wash and cut cauliflower head into small bite-sized pieces.
2. Mix all the ingredients (minus the Earth Balance and hot sauce) into a mixing bowl.
3. The batter will be thin enough that it runs off your fork and the cauliflower florets. Dip each floret into the mixture and coat evenly. You can shake or tap off the excess on the side of the bowl.
4. Lay florets in an even layer on the parchment lined baking sheet.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
6. While the cauliflower is baking get your ranch dip and wing sauce ready. In a small saucepan over low heat melt Earth Balance and mix in hot sauce, bringing to a low simmer before removing from the heat.
7. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and put all the baked florets into a mixing bowl with the wing sauce and toss to coat evenly. Then spread all the florets in wing sauce out onto the same baking sheet. Bake in the oven for another 25 minutes.

cauliflower-buffalo-wings-vegan-recipe-1

Ranch Dip Ingredients:
1 cup Wildwood zesty garlic aioli (or vegan mayo of your choice)
1/8 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp chives
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Note: If you use a regular vegan mayo you might also want to add 1 tsp of garlic powder.

Directions:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins before serving.

Tip: The wings can be made with any sauce so try it with your favourite BBQ sauce or a nice version is lemon and pepper. For a milder salt and pepper wing just toss them in salt and pepper right out of the oven — no need for the second baking…the options are endless!

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

We’re in the full swing of fall now and hiding away in the kitchen to make some comforting meals is just what you need. Making your own dough doesn’t have to be a hassle either. Try our easy recipe for this sweet potato and kale galette with a flaky coconut oil and rosemary crust. You can even fill it with other seasonal vegetables like butternut squash or finely chopped Brussels sprouts — it’s up to you!888_sweet-potato-and-kale-galette

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

Pistachio Parmesan:
¼ cup roasted & unsalted pistachio nut meat (can sub roasted almonds or cashews)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt

Crust:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
5 Tbsp solid coconut oil
2/3 cup cold water
¼ cup all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)

Filling:
1 sweet potato
2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves (stems removed)
¼ cup thinly sliced white onion
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2. In a coffee grinder, combine the ingredients for the pistachio parmesan and grind into a fine meal. Set aside.
3. Thinly slice the sweet potato and onion with a mandolin. Coat with 2 tsp olive oil and set aside.
4. Massage lemon juice into roughly chopped kale and set aside.
5. To make the crust, blend together 1½ cups all-purpose flour, rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper in a large mixing bowl.
6. Using a pastry blender, cut in coconut oil until the mixture looks like crumbs.
7. Make a well in the middle of flour mixture and add cold water. Fold it only a few times with your hands to mix the dough until it just comes together. Be careful not to over mix.
8. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper onto a flat, dry surface. Dust the parchment paper with some all-purpose flour and place dough on top. Dust a rolling pin with flour as well, and gently roll out the dough to approximately a 15” oval or circle. It doesn’t have to be perfect as this is meant to look rustic. Note: rolling it out on parchment paper makes transferring it to a baking pan much easier.
9. Sprinkle about ¾ of the pistachio parmesan mixture on the entire surface of the dough.
10. Slightly overlap the thinly sliced sweet potatoes in the centre of the dough, leaving a 2” rim of dough all around.
11. Add a little more pistachio parmesan on top, and then add kale, onion slices and remaining thinly sliced sweet potatoes (you might only use ¾ of the sweet potato depending on its size).
12. Fold the 2”-edge of dough over top of the vegetables and pinch together any excess creating a crust.
13. Take 1 Tbsp of olive oil and brush the edges of the crust with it and drizzle any remaining oil on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle remaining pistachio parmesan all over crust and on top.
14. Lift the sides of parchment paper and gently place the galette on a large baking sheet or pizza pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters

3 Delicious New Ways to Eat Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is known for being the healthy alternative to carb-heavy pasta, but it can take on more than its traditional garnish of tomato sauce and meatballs. Spaghetti squash also happens to be a rockstar ingredient that can be used in a variety of fresh, inventive ways. From a sweet slice to a salad topper to a snack-sized fritter, check out these three creative recipes that champion spaghetti squash as the hero, all without a meatball in sight.

Cooking Tip: Microwave, steam or bake spaghetti squash until tender before you start the following recipes.

 

Squash-Salad Topper

Middle Eastern Spaghetti Squash Salad or Sandwich Topper
Mix 1 cup cooked squash with 1/4 cup almond meal, 1 tsp ground cumin and a few pinches of salt. Use to top a salad or layer onto your favourite sandwich for a healthy, nutrient-packed vegetarian meal. Serve warm or chilled. Serves 1 to 2.

Squash-Fritters-1

Spaghetti Squash Fritters
Mix 1 cup cooked spaghetti squash with 1 large egg and 1/4 all-purpose flour. Stir in 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley. In a non-stick skillet over medium, heat a knob of butter. Cook batter in batches, like pancakes, until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Serve warm with Greek yogurt and fresh lime. Serves 1 to 2.

Spaghetti Squash Quick Bread
Give zucchini bread a break and whip up this cozy, spiced loaf for a subtly sweet breakfast or teatime treat.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour
Cooling Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, more for pan
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp orange zest
2 large eggs
2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole or chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a standard loaf pan with a bit of butter.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and orange zest together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and continue to beat until mixture is combined.
3. In a separate large bowl, mix together squash, yogurt and baking soda. Stir squash mixture into butter mixture.
4. In a medium bowl, mix to combine flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter and squash mixture until just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and evenly top with pecans. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

From breakfast to dinner, discover a dozen more ways to use magical, healthy spaghetti squash in your favourite meals. 

Spring Appetizer: Crudités with Preserved Lemon Guacamole

Spring is perfect for al fresco dining; the outdoors providing a bright, natural setting for any dishes you’re serving. Next time you are entertaining, rather than spending hours on prep, try a simple yet impressive crudités platter. Typically filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables and a dipping sauce, this stunning appetizer is sure to delight your guests.

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Creamy, crunchy, spicy and tangy, this guacamole has got it all going on. Finely diced preserved lemon brings both a hit of salt and a good dose of acidity to this perfectly balanced dip. A rainbow of spring produce alongside the guacamole makes this vibrant appetizer the star of any spread.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Guacamole crudite prep-1

Ingredients:
3 firm-ripe Hass avocados
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 of a preserve lemon, rinsed
1/3 cup minced sweet white onion, such as Vidalia
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Assorted spring vegetables, such as baby carrots, snap peas, young asparagus and radishes

Guacamole-mixing-1

Directions:
1. Cut each avocado in 1/2 lengthwise. Remove the pit and discard. Scoop the flesh out of the peel with a soup spoon and place in a medium bowl.
2. Pour the lime juice all over the avocado and then mash them to a pulp. I like to use a pastry cutter for this job; a fork works just fine, too.
3. Finely mince the entire preserved lemon (rind and pulp) and remove any seeds you encounter. Add to the mashed avocado, along with the minced onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Mash everything together, then taste the guacamole and add additional seasoning if desired. Since we are not serving this dip with salty tortilla chips, I find a little extra salt in the guacamole goes a long way.
4. Scrape preserved lemon guacamole into a serving bowl. Garnish with a fine dice of preserved lemon rind if desired. Serve immediately with a platter of spring vegetable crudités.

Guacamole-and-crudite-final-1

Simple Pan-Roasted Brown Butter Radishes

Raw radishes have a sharp, pungent flavour, but pan roasting them brings out their natural sweetness. For this fresh and flavourful side dish, radishes are first sauteed and then tossed in brown butter and lemon juice until fragrant and topped with fresh chives.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

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Ingredients:
2 bunches radishes, assorted colours and types
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp lemon juice
1 bunch chives, chopped
Lemon wedges

Directions:
1. Trim the radishes so 1/2-inch (1 cm) of the stem is intact; trim and discard roots. Scrub well and dry well. Wash the leafy green tops, dry well and coarsely chop and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the radishes, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt. Cook, shaking occasionally but not turning, for 5 to 7 minute until golden. Cook, stirring often, for an additional 3 minutes or until lightly coloured all over.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan, for 3 minutes or until butter is starting to brown and smell nutty, then remove from heat.
4. Stir the brown butter and lemon juice into the radishes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped chives. Serve with lemon wedges.

Looking for more seasonal recipes? Check out our collection of spring dinners that can made in 30 minutes or less.

Chuck and Danny’s Guide to Cooking with Sumac

After a long day on the road in Hastings and Prince Edward Country, chefs Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles set out to create a succulent feast from the bounty of local Ontario ingredients they’ve gathered.

After foraging for wild juniper,  harvesting local beets and squash and securing tender buffalo mozzarella, plus a bone-on tomahawk ribeye roast,  the pressure’s on to create a campfire feast for the local farmers and purveyors.

With the help of a custom-made barbecue grill on loan from Enright Cattle Company, they’ve got the perfect vehicle to cook the 43lb ribeye roast. Sounds impressive, but the menu doesn’t end there. They’re also roasting Golden Nugget Cups, candy-sweet squash from Earth Haven Farms, halved and stuffed with Ontario buffalo mozzarella (a gift from winemaker Norman Hardie.) The squash holds another local secret: sumac foraged from chef and local resident Justin Cournoyer’s back woods.

This citrus-like star ingredient is widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine, which is why the chefs were surprised to find it growing in the wild in Ontario.

chuck-hughes-danny-smiles-golden-nugget-cups
Chuck and Danny’s sumac-spiced golden nugget squash cups. 

Neither Danny or Chuck are strangers to the flowering plant: Danny uses it in his homemade za’atar mix with sesame seeds and thyme, and it’s part of Chuck’s arsenal at his restaurants as a citrus substitute. “It’s like a Canadian lemon,” says Chuck.

Chuck-Hughes-Danny-Smiles-Foraging-Sumac

Justin teaches them how to find the best plant by looking for a vibrant red hue in the berries, and to store it by drying it whole in the sun and making a powder, which can be used to braise beef or put on raw bread.

Chuck-Hughes-Holding-Suamc

Chuck and Danny use their collected sumac to sprinkle on the golden nugget squash, tempering its sweetness with a slight pucker. The cups rest just above the coals, collecting the succulent drippings from a 43 lb. bone-in tomahawk style side of beef rubbed and spritzed with juniper, and juniper branches are tossed onto the fire, creating fragrant smoke. The food’s so good, even a slight drizzle can’t dampen the mood, and the feast goes on under the stars for hours.

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Chuck and Danny begin cooking the bone on tomahawk ribeye roast hours before their guests arrive.

Home cooks can take a walk on the wild side with sumac in their own kitchens. In the warmer months, ground sumac gives flavoured butter an extra kick, lending a slight tartness to balance out summer-sweet corn on the cob. Paired with juniper, sumac steeped in tea and poured over wild Canadian blueberries from British Columbia makes for a spread-worthy preserve to liven up breakfast at home or the cottage. And for lazy nights any time of year, a potent sumac infused potion, sweetened with maple syrup, uses whole sumac clusters — combine it with vodka for a Canadiana martini, a true sweet and sour sipper.

Missed the episode? Catch it online at Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip.
Watch video below to learn more about sumac.

5 Tasty Ways to Use Hummus (That Aren’t Dip)

Nutritious, filling and most importantly, tasty, hummus is so easy and inexpensive to make that there’s no excuse not to make it from scratch. We all know that hummus is everyone’s go-to dip for vegetables and pita, but how else can you use this popular Middle Eastern condiment? Here are five delicious ideas to hummus-ify your meals.

Basic Hummus Recipe
Traditional hummus contains tahini, a creamy paste made from ground sesame seeds. However, I tend to skip the tahini since I don’t use it in much else. You can make your own tahini by simply grinding sesame seeds and olive oil together in a food processor—and this version is tasty as is.

Ingredients:
1 591 mL can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced*
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

Directions:
1. Combine chickpeas, garlic and olive oil in a blender, food processor, or a bowl if you’re using a hand blender.
2. Purée the ingredients until everything becomes a smooth and velvety texture, with all the lumps gone. If the mix is too thick, thin it out with a bit of water.
3. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Continue blending until everything is well incorporated. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

*If the taste of raw garlic is too strong, use one clove or opt for roasted garlic, which yields a milder, sweeter taste.

Hummus_sandwiches

1. Sandwich Spread

Skip the mayonnaise and use hummus to beef up and boost flavour in your sandwiches and wraps. The nutty taste goes especially well with turkey slices, and the creamy texture adds a good contrast to crunchy toppings like cucumber and carrots. In the picture below, I made a vegetarian breakfast sandwich with thinly-sliced mini cucumbers and chunks of leftover, roasted butternut squash from the fridge.

Hummus_PastaSalad

2. Pasta Salad Dressing

Thin out the hummus with olive oil and a bit of water until the consistency is similar to a creamy salad dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the dressing in a big bowl of fusilli, penne, or any pasta shape that has crevices to hold on to the hummus. Bonus: if you’re using hummus from the fridge, the cold dressing will help cool down the cooked pasta quicker. Here, I added chopped cucumbers, sliced chicken breast, and roasted corn and onions for a summery weekend lunch with the family.

Hummus_Chicken

3. Chicken Topping

Jazz up a piece of grilled chicken breast by smearing hummus and sprinkling crushed raw almonds on top for some added texture. Bake the chicken at 400ºF for 12-15 minutes until it is well done.

Hummus_SaladDressing

4. Salad Dressing

The strong, garlicky taste of hummus goes especially well with the bitter taste of dark greens. Similar to the pasta salad, dilute the hummus with olive oil and water until it reaches Thousand Island-like consistency. Add a bit more lemon juice and salt, and mix with the greens.

Hummus_Soup

5. Hearty Soup

This soup is so thick and creamy (not to mention protein-filled) that this pot can feed four people, especially when you add in the vegetables. Speaking of, you’ll have to sauté the veggies (or better yet, roast for at about 30 minutes at 400ºF) until they’re soft, before you dump them into the pot. If you have any leftover roasted carrots and potatoes in the fridge, use them in this recipe to skip the first step and save time. Save this soup recipe for the cold, winter months when you’ll be craving a hot bowl of soup with a big punch of nutty, garlicky taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups hummus
2 1/2 cups no-salt added chicken broth, plus more for vegetables
2 cups carrots, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cups potatoes, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup pancetta, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped green onion, to garnish
Grated Parmesan, to garnish

Directions:
1. Bring a splash of chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the carrots and potatoes. Cover and let cook until they begin to soften. Add more broth if the pan starts to dry up.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the hummus and stir until well incorporated. Reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally.
3. Using the same pan used to cook the vegetables, add a bit of oil and fry up the pancetta until it starts to brown. Add it to the soup pot, along with the cooked vegetables. Stir and bring to a simmer.
4. Pour the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with chopped green onion and parmesan. Serve immediately.

chicken sheet pan dinner

Simple Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggie Dinner in Under an Hour

One tray means little mess for this chop, toss and roast creation. Full of hearty, warming winter vegetables and crowd-pleasing chicken, and generously coated with a maple-mustard sauce, you’ll have dinner ready for your family in under an hour.

Simple-Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Dinner-7

Use any in-season vegetables you have on hand such as squash, potatoes, onions and beets. You can also opt for a different protein, such as pork chops, sausages, meatballs or even fish — the options are truly endless.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Simple-Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Dinner-2

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut into 6 to 8 pieces, or chicken pieces of choice (breast, drumsticks, etc.)
1 medium turnip, peeled and sliced into boats
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into medium pieces
1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, cut into large pieces
1/2 large bulb or 1 small bulb fennel, cored and sliced into thick strips
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage, more for garnish
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Simple-Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Dinner-4

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Arrange chicken, vegetables and sage on a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a small bowl, whisk mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper until combined. Add to chicken and vegetables, and toss to coat. Evenly space chicken and vegetables, ensuring chicken is skin side-up.
3. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through with crispy skin.
4. Serve with additional fresh sage, if desired.

Simple-Sheet-Pan-Chicken-Dinner-8

Check out these 15 simple recipes for tasty sheet pan suppers.

10 Food Scraps You Should Never Throw Away

Many of us are stuck in the conventional ways of food prep  throwing out rinds, tossing away stems and peeling off skin. Without knowing it, we’re discarding the best parts of fruits and veggies. In fact, some of the least thought about pieces have the most nutrition and flavour. Next time you’re cooking, make use of these nutritious fruit and veggie scraps.

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1. Apple Skin
Apple skin is often the first to go when using this fruit for cooking or baking. However, the skin actually has slightly more nutrition than the flesh. Rich in insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and vitamin C, these nutrients work to clean out the digestive system, remove toxins and waste from the body. The skin is also rich in quercetin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can reduce inflammation in the body. Most recipes call for removing the skin, but try leaving the skin intact — you may be surprised by the outcome!

2. Orange Peel
Most of the orange’s incredible nutrients actually lie in the peel and the pith, which is the white stringy part around the flesh. The pith contains a herperidin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and inflammation. The pith and peel also contain pectin, known as a fruit fibre, which helps to keep the body full while suppressing hunger. When peeling an orange to eat, remember to keep the pith layer on, and use leftover orange peel in baked goods, zested on chicken or fish and tossed into smoothies.

3. Fennel Fronds
Fennel is a delicious bulbous vegetable that tastes just like licorice. The fronds actually contain just as much nutrition as the bulb; however, they are often discarded along with the leaves and the core. The whole fennel plant is rich in vitamin C with potent anti-inflammatory compounds. The fronds, leaves and core should be kept to flavour soup stocks, baked goods and even fermented foods like sauerkraut.

4. Kale Stalks
While people love the nutritious leafy green, most tend to discard the stalks and only make use of the leaves. The stalks are loaded in insoluble fibre, which acts like a bristled sponge cleaning out the walls of the digestive system. Eating various parts of plants — leaves, stalks or stems — also provides the body with a mixture of different phytonutrients. Use kale stalks in soups, juices, smoothies and chop them finely to put in salads or sautees.

5. Cilantro Stems
When using herbs, we tend to only use the leaves and throw away the stems or roots. Cilantro stems and roots carry nutrition while also providing bold flavor and texture. This tasty herb helps control blood sugar and free radical production. The stems and roots are best used blended into soups, stews, salsas, guacamole and can even be juiced.

6. Broccoli Leaves and Stalks
Broccoli leaves and stalks are usually the first to go but they make a versatile, delicious and nutritious ingredient. The stalks have a ton of fibre, which is important for keeping the body regular. The leaves contain beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, antioxidants and folate, which supports red blood cell production. It’s no wonder broccoli leaves are being touted as the next kale! Use them in salads, steam them, sauté them, juice them and toss them into smoothies.

7. Celery Leaves
When eating celery we rarely think about celery leaves. Celery leaves look like a lighter version of flat leaf parsley and most of the time they are tossed away. The leaves have vitamin C, potassium and calcium which all work to support the immunity, healthy skin, the kidneys and control blood pressure. Celery leaves are perfect in soup stocks and great for juicing.

8. Beet Greens
Most people throw away the leafy greens that come with bunches of beets. These beet greens are very similar to Swiss chard in colour, flavour and nutrition. These greens contain a phytonutrient that keeps eyesight strong and prevents degeneration and cataracts. They also boast an array of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Beet greens can be used for soups, sautées, smoothies, juices and salads.

9. Watermelon Rind
Watermelon is always a go-to snack in the summer, but the rind is usually left in the compost bin, with the white flesh intact. Citrulline, the nutrient in the white flesh is super powerful at fighting free radicals, preventing cancer and improving blood circulation. Some people even believe it to be a natural Viagra! Next time watermelon is on the table, remember to eat the white part too, or blend it up with some lime and mint for a refreshing beverage.

10 Cucumber Skin
The dark skin of cucumbers is often peeled off and tossed out, but the it contains more nutrition than the flesh. Cucumber skin contains vitamin K, which supports proper bone health and healthy blood clotting. If using the skin, wash the cucumber really well since it is often coated in a wax to prevent bruising during travel. Add to your smoothies, salads or make it into a cool soup.

How to Roast Vegetables Like a Pro

Now that we’re halfway through fall (how did that happen?), roasted vegetables of all shapes and sizes are back on the dinner table on a regular basis. Beautiful rainbow carrots, stark white, earthy parsnips, acorn squash, love-it-or-hate-it eggplant …the list goes on and on. To ensure each veg is cooked to perfection, you might want to think twice about chopping them up and tossing them in the same baking dish.

Here are a few simple tips and tricks to help you roast vegetables like a pro, and maybe even find a new appreciation for certain varieties that you weren’t so fond of before. I’m looking at you, Brussels sprouts!

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Tips and Tricks:

1. Roast like vegetables with like vegetables.
Yams and potatoes can be best friends in a baking dish, but something juicier, like zucchini or tomatoes tossed in? Not so much. A juicy vegetable will impose on the crispy, caramelized texture you’re looking for in starchy varieties, so keep ‘em separate.

2. Don’t overcrowd the pan.
Similar to the above, overcrowding vegetables on a roasting pan impedes their ability to caramelize. It’s not that you need to space out chunks of broccoli two inches from each other, but work in batches if needed. This mentality can also be applied when pan-searing mushrooms in butter Try it and taste the difference!

3. Working with large vegetables.
Roasting a halved butternut squash, whole heads of cauliflower or big russet potatoes should not be cooked at the same high temperatures as their chopped counterparts. Lower and slower is a better approach in these cases.

4. Make sure to use enough oil.
Dry vegetables typically result in not-so-great roasted veggies. Depending on what you’re doing with them once they’re cooked, it’s better to stick with a neutral-tasting oil like canola. This variety has a high smoke point than your standard olive oil.

5. A little sweetness goes a long way.
While coating vegetables with oil, I will often add a little something sweet like maple syrup or brown sugar to the mix. Not only does this add extra flavour, but it helps things caramelize nicely. This works especially well with ingredients like carrots, parsnips or Brussels sprouts.

6. The unusual roasters.
There are plenty of vegetables at the grocery store you might walk by time and time again, and never think of taking home to roast. I operate with the mentality that any vegetable can be roasted. Radishes taste completely different when roasted (sweet and juicy), kohlrabi, which is also delicious raw, turns out tasting like a turnip. One of my favourites is taking thick cuts of green cabbage and roasting it at a high temperature. Once charred, it develops an unbelievably delicious umami flavour. Out of this world!

General Roasting Temps and Times for Popular Veggies:

Small/Cubed Potatoes & Squash (1” or smaller): 450°F for 20 to 25 minutes
Whole Russet Potatoes & Large, Halved Squash: 375°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Chopped Broccoli, Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts: 425°F for 30 to 45 minutes
Whole Broccoli Stems & Heads of Cauliflower: 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes (turn to high broil near end of roasting for better caramelization)
Whole Beets: 350°F for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on size
Carrots & Parsnips: 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes
Eggplant, Zucchini & Kohlrabi: 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes

Cauliflower Pizza

The Best Cauliflower Crust Rainbow Pizza

You can roast it, rice it, steam it or purée it, but our new favourite way to enjoy seasonal cauliflower is pizza. Quicker than making your own pizza dough from scratch, you’ll love this crispy, chewy cauliflower crust that serves as a sneaky way to eat more veggies.

Once you have the base down, you can customize your toppings based on the season. Use up those last few end-of-summer tomatoes with fresh basil, or pair roast squash with creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Try shredded, roast Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds for a comforting cool-weather dinner. Get creative with the toppings and turn this recipe into a satisfying, veggie meal for you and your family.

Cauliflower Pizza

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 (makes 2 pizzas)

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Crust:
1 1/2 lbs (1/2 large) cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup light spelt flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp psyllium powder
1 tsp salt

Toppings:
1 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup shredded radicchio or red cabbage
1/2 cup tomato sauce or 2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or ¼ cup broccoli
1/4 cup red onion
1 large carrot, julienned or shredded
1 Tbsp balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze), for drizzling

Rainbow Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Directions:
1. Arrange oven racks to accommodate 2 trays. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse cauliflower until finely chopped. Add eggs and cheese; blend until combined. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add flour, psyllium and salt; blend until combine. Place dough onto baking sheet and spread into 8-inch circle or rectangle. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Arrange fresh toppings into any pattern you desire (get creative!). Slice and serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

4 Easy Ways to Preserve the Best of Summer

In the last few weeks of summer, it can be hard to resist a basket of bright, warm peaches at the farmer’s market, or freshly picked roadside corn at $2 a dozen. If you’ve ever found yourself surrounded with more perfectly ripe produce than you could ever possibly enjoy, we hear you.

To help get us out of this pickle, we turned to Dana Harrison and Joel MacCharles, the couple behind the website Well Preserved, for their tips and recommendations on how to preserve the best of summer. The pair recently launched their first book, Batch, a guide to preserving 25 different ingredients, which includes over 200 recipes, tips and techniques.

For most preserving, you don’t need pressure cooker or a smoker to save those summer flavours. “It is way easier than you think, way funner than you think and it can take minutes,” says MacCharles, who notes that the biggest obstacle to preserving is not knowing what’s possible.

If your fridge is overflowing, these four techniques are a great place to start saving the flavours of summer for a cooler day.

canning

1. Freezing. Your first tool to making produce last longer is already in your kitchen. “The fridge and freezer are the ones that people don’t think about,” says MacCharles. While it can take up space, freezing is a super simple way to preserve food at its peak, so it can be enjoyed later in the year. Try roasting peppers and pureeing them before slipping them into the freezer for a boost of flavour come winter.

2. Fermenting. People are seeking out kimchi and kombucha for the gut-health benefits, but many don’t realize that fermentation is a type of preserving. “I think fermenting is the easiest thing you can do,” says Harrison, who recommends turning that big head of cabbage into sauerkraut. “Massage a bunch of cabbage together with salt and put it in a jar and that’s it, you’re done.”

3. Infusing. Infusing is an easy and super quick way to capture the flavours of fresh ingredients. “You could talk to many people who are infusing and they don’t think that they are preserving food,” says MacCharles, who says the technique is big in the cocktail scene, where bitters and infused alcohol are popular. Home cooks can play with infusing oils, vinegar or alcohol. A simple and easy way to make a gourmet ingredient in a flash is infusing salt. Mixing salt with an ingredient like a wilting pepper or rhubarb is a dead easy way to infuse flavour into your salt and makes for an easy flavour enhancer.

4. Canning. While most people think strawberry jam is a great place to start, MacCharles  disagrees. “It is easy to mess up yet it is totally the gateway,” he says. He recommends thinking about what you like to eat and learning the techniques from there. Harrison and MacCharles learned the hard way by starting with jam, but canned tomato sauce is where they really hit their stride. “It is on the cover of the book because that is family to us,” says MacCharles. Every fall, Harrison and MacCharles head to his parent’s house for one saucy weekend, where they typically make 160 jars in one sitting.

When in doubt, make something you know you like to eat and get the family involved with preserving for the most fun.

Beet Hummus

Bright and Beautiful Beet Hummus

Brighten up your summer nights with this vibrant hummus. The punchy dip gets a natural fuchsia face-lift with the help of a sweet summertime staple: beets!

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, you’ve likely seen the deep garnet beauties piled high, ready for roasting, sauteing and spiralizing. But before you pop those colourful gems into the oven, consider this tasty snack. The beets require no pre-cooking, but can be roasted if you prefer. Enjoyed with pita wedges, on toast, with vegetables and so much more, you’ll keep finding a home for this addictive dip in your kitchen.

Beet Hummus

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Hummus:
1 raw beet, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Serving:
Whole wheat pita bread
Thinly sliced radishes
Sesame seeds
Fresh herbs of choice

Directions:

Hummus:
1. Pulse beet and garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add remaining hummus ingredients and puree until smooth.
2. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place pitas on a baking tray and warm for approximately 7 minutes, or until desired temperature.
3. Remove from oven and slice into wedges.
4. Serve with hummus, garnished with radishes, sesame seeds and herbs.

11 Tasty Ways to Eat More Broccoli

We’re always on the lookout for quick and easy recipes that pack a punch when it comes to both flavour and nutrients, so it’s no surprise that broccoli landed on our list of must-eats. Here are some of our favourite ways to add more of this vibrant green veggie to your diet.

888_Broccoli-and-Bow-Ties

1. Broccoli with Bow Ties and Peas

2. Mean Green Broccoli Soup with Cheddar Recipe

3. Broccoli Frittata Recipe

4. Beef with Broccoli

5. Mini Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pies

6. Broccoli Dust Recipe

7. Broccoli Orecchiette, Courgette & Bocconcini Salad, Prosciutto & Melon Salad

8. Fresh Broccoli Salad

9. Chinese Crispy Beef & Broccoli Noodles with Kung Pao Chili Oil

10. Mae’s Broccoli Cheddar Salad Recipe

11. Chinese Broccoli Recipe