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6 things you can put on the grill other than hamburgers

Are your ready to barbecue this summer? At my house, no one ever uses the oven during the months of July and August unless it’s for baking sweets or pastries. It’s all about the BBQ. Who doesn’t love the smell of grilled meats and vegetables? The best thing is, there is almost nothing you can’t cook on the barbecue. Here are a few ideas for those of you looking to try something new:

Kabobs: This one may be a bit obvious, but it’s all about what you put on the kabob. Just grab some chicken, steak, shrimp, or even tofu for those vegetarians out there and put it on a wooden kabob stick. Make sure to alternate between protein source and vegetables. My favourite vegetables are button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and yellow peppers, but feel free to spice it up.

Cheese: To be clear, this does not mean every cheese can be grilled. But, some brilliant person invented cheese that you could grill. It’s great on sandwiches, wraps, or even served on it’s own with tomatoes and basil as an appetizer. It has a texture a bit similar to tofu, but with the squeak of a curd. The taste is incredibly rich, and it takes on the taste of  it has a very rich taste. Halloumi is the most well-known of grilling cheeses, but you can get some at any artisan cheese stop or market.

Potatoes: You can cook potatoes on the grill similarly to how you do it in the oven. But, you have to cut them into larger pieces. it’s recommended that you slice them so that they don’t fall through the grill. Top the potatoes with cheese and cooked bacon and serve with sour cream! If you want a healthier option, simply grill the potatoes with oil, salt and pepper.

Pizza: Try to make your own pizza using your barbecue. I would lightly-precook the vegetables and meats, just to ensure they are cooked at the same time as the dough. Don’t cook them completely though or you risk soggy toppings on your pizza. Make a crust and place it on your grill with tomato sauce and your toppings of choice. Close the lid and wait 10-15 minutes. This only really works with thin crusts, depending on the size of your barbecue.

Pineapple or watermelon: Not all fruits can be put on the grill, but these two are wonderfully refreshing. The grill chars the fruit and keeps the juices in, while also giving it a nice smokey flavour. Grilled watermelon is fantastic in cold salads and grilled pineapple makes an excellent appetizer or a great topping on a meat dish.

Smores: You don’t have to go camping to have this beautiful and sticky dessert. I should warn you though, once you realize you can make smores in your backyard, you will never want to go camping again! Wrap your smore in tin foil to make sure it doesn’t get too messy, and make sure to watch them carefully, as the marshmallow will melt fast.Another rendition is to split open a banana, place bits of chocolate and marshmallow within that split, and wrap it in tin foil. Place on top of the grill until everything is gooey and delicious!

What are your favourite foods to grill? Let us know in the comments below! 

Harrison Hot Springs: favourite getaway for locals and tourists

“Country roads take me home…” this song by John Denver could have been inspired by the route to Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia. Just substitute Lillooet Ranges for Blue Ridge Mountains and the mighty Fraser for Shenandoah River. There could be no more appropriate song running through my head while driving to Agassiz, a small community located in the Upper Fraser Valley region. With picturesque mountain views, wide open vistas of farmlands with rolling hills and the smell of country fresh air, it was almost heaven, and the serenity reminded me of growing up on a hobby farm in the Eastern Townships, in Richmond, Quebec.

Outdoor Activities: Agassiz, B.C.

About 5km outside Harrison Hot Springs we made a couple of stops, firstly at Farm House Natural Cheeses. Featuring a country style store with seemingly every kind of exotic cheeses you could desire, including hand made artisan cheese produced on site. My partner and I enjoyed the company of goats and dairy cows at some of the large and tidy barns. At our next mini tour, we visited the Back Porch Coffee Roastery, where the owners, Dan and Lynda welcomed us into their studio. We noticed an antique coffee roaster dating back to 1919, as well as other collectibles and antiques. Their expansive property was immaculately kept, with manicured lawns surrounding heritage buildings loaded with character, to go with a million dollar view.

Both the Farmhouse Natural Cheeses and the Back Porch Coffee Roastery are ideal tourist stops for the whole family. It was a chance to unwind before heading to Harrison Hot Springs, which was our ultimate destination.

We were excited to visit Harrison Hot Springs, as we always enjoy running the trails or the lakeside pathway and then soaking in the hot springs pool after a workout. Harrison Hot Springs is a small, friendly resort community of about 1,500 people. There are so many outdoors activities, from boating, fishing, golfing, kayaking, etc. It is THE place for a runner’s getaway or just a gorgeous destination to escape from the city, about a 130km drive from Vancouver. Harrison Hot Springs is at the Southern end of Harrison Lake in the Fraser Valley and is world famous for its natural healing hot springs, which attracts tourists and locals alike year round.

Photo by John Moe.

Spirit Mask Trail:

We walked the Spirit Mask Trail, which is a circuitous 1km route through pristine forest lands just a few minutes from the village, though it seemed longer as it was enjoyable not just for the walk through the woods, but because many trees are decorated with carved masks from local artists. Each mask depicts a different mood, creating a thought-provoking setting. The walk is fun for the whole family and is a wonderful photo opportunity.

Spirit Mask Trail. Photo by John Moe.

Health/Wellness – Muddy Waters Café:

After our workout it was time to refuel with some healthy eats at Muddy Waters Café, which is family owned and located in the heart of the village. We could feel a sense of community spirit upon entering the room. Located on the main strip with spectacular mountain and lake views, we were greeted by manager, Richard Fife, who recommended the yogurt plate served with an assortment of fruit along with homemade jam and healthy grain bread, while my partner, John had salmon over scrambled eggs with fresh fruit. Richard says proudly, “we source all of our food locally,” which includes an extensive menu for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. We enjoyed our breakfast in this charming café that also offers specialty coffees, which we couldn’t refuse. Overall, if you are a foodie you will want to try out this place.

 

Black Forest Restaurant:

You can virtually enjoy a slice of Germany – right in the village since 1975 – at the Black Forest Restaurant where naturally, you will find the most delicious black forest cake. This family-run business offers authentic German food, with all spices coming directly from Germany. If you like beer with your bratwurst, the restaurant offers the Krombacher Pilsner, which is an exquisite German brew, served in B.C. exclusively at Black Forest restaurants in Harrison Hot Springs and New Westminster. We enjoyed our meal, which was recommended by owner and chef, Vic Singh. His wife Kamal says, “we also offer vegetarian plates.” The restaurant is in the heart of the village, offering delicious German cuisine, along with breathtaking views from its upstairs patio deck.

Harrison Beach Hotel:

A better view will not be found at Harrison Hot Springs than from our suite at the Harrison Beach Hotel. Stepping onto the huge balcony from the front room, I knew instantly this was what the doctor had ordered. It not only offered stunning vistas of the lakeshore and beyond, closer inspection revealed kitchenette with fridge, separate bedroom, two TVs and coffee. If you thought you’d seen it all when it comes to towel art and design, you’d best make the trip. The design art towels for the bathroom made me feel almost guilty for actually using them. Importantly, the coffee maker, together with Starbucks coffee, was a much-appreciated convenience for runners and writers like us.

Harrison Hot Springs offers something for everyone, from a stroll through the village, to soaking in the hot springs, to running the lakeshore pathway and much more. At just a stone throw from Vancouver, it’s the perfect getaway where you are limited only by your imagination.

Looking for more getaways? Check out Christine Blanchette’s adventure in Abbotsford B.C.

 

By Christine Blanchette and John Moe

Instagram: runwithit_christineblanchette
Twitter @christineruns
runwithit.ca

Summer activities and culinary delights in Abbotsford, B.C.

Summer is a great time to explore British Columbia, with her many outdoors activities and festivals. While some will make the drive straight to Vancouver, the more enlightened traveler will stop and visit Abbotsford, the largest city in the Fraser Valley. According to Destination B.C., Abbotsford is known as the “City in the Country” for its agriculture, hospitality, and outdoors activities.

Abbotsford is nestled on flatlands between the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges. With a burgeoning population of approximately 143,000, Abbottsford lies in the heart of the Fraser Valley, 68km east of Vancouver and just 5km from the US border. While Hwy 1 connects the community east and west, its airport has put Abbotsford on the international map. Abbotsford is an alternate arrival/departure point to Vancouver’s International Airport.

It’s a great place to stretch your legs walking, hiking or running one of Abbottsford’s numerous scenic trails or have a bite at some of the best eateries you’ll find anywhere, and perhaps spend a night. Enjoy the panoramic view at 300 meters after hiking the Abby Grind or run the Mill Lake trail, for a perfect sample of what Abbottsford offers outdoors enthusiasts. My partner, John and I checked out both trails recently in perfect mid-spring conditions. Read on for our detailed analysis:

Outdoors – Abby Grind

The Abby Grind is like the little sister to North Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. This was our first time hiking the steep Glen Ryder Trail. It has a viewpoint that can be reached in about 45 minutes. The 4km trek can be a challenge if you’re not wearing the proper shoes, though on this sunny day runners and walkers with their dogs enjoyed the trail as much as we did. The Abby Grind has been around since 2013 and offers a great workout. Steep though it is, there are sections that level off, allowing one to rest.

View from the top of Abby Grind. Photo by John Moe.

Outdoors – Mill Lake

We started out walking around the paved pathway and boardwalk that encircles beautiful Mill Lake Park in central Abbottsford, but ended up running parts of the two kilometre path. Mill Lake is a popular trail that attracts everyone, with picnic tables, a playground, and water park. Prepare for photo ops abound with spectacular views of Washington State’s Mount Baker. A fun fact: did you know that Mill Lake Park is the Jewel of Abbotsford because of its rich history? The first saw mill was built there in 1903 and  remained active until 1934.

Wellness/Health

After our workout we were welcomed to lunch by friendly staff at the Harvest Grill n Greens in downtown Abbotsford. It’s a one-of-a-kind eatery in which owner/chef Dion Brisson presents a varied menu of all healthy choices for the vegan and meat lover alike. It’s comfortable, bright, and super clean, built in part with 100-year-old cedar beams that were discovered under the original building by Dion’s friend and carpenter. The wood benches and foot rests are brought back to life from barns that once occupied the site.

Dion says he’s always been passionate about healthy eating from being an athlete himself as a hockey player, wrestler and an avid Abby Grinder. His passion for healthy eating led him to create custom meals from soups, salads to entries. Dion says the food is local and all fresh, as we tried his recommendation – salad served with local produce and sausage. Dion says, “it is the new Kits,” in reference to Vancouver’s trendy Kitsilano district, in offering a gluten-free menu to a knowledgeable clientele.

Brodeur’s Bistro carb loading!

Brodeur’s made me feel like I was home in Quebec with their Montreal style menu. It’s a great place for carb-loading before a hike or a long run. I couldn’t resist ordering my favourite Quebec dish, poutine, along with Pierre’s Cuban sandwich. Their specialty is Montreal smoked meat, which is served in large portions. John had a half rack of ribs with Brodeur’s barbecue sauce, which he devoured. Chef Jay Baker has about 20 years experience and the food dishes are a fusion blend of New Orleans and Montreal cuisine.

Brookside Abby

En route to our overnight stay at the Brookside Abby, we drove by pristine farmlands that seemed to stretch for miles. It’s a charming boutique inn on Chardonnay Lane that is close to local vineyards. The Brookside Abby was voted best small hotel in Canada by TripAdvisor for 2017 and their award list goes on. We stayed in the “Midnight in Paris” suite, which is themed after the romantic comedy about a writer, directed by Woody Allen. Each suite has a movie theme and is decorated with items based on the movie, such as an Underwood typewriter from the late 1920’s in our suite, as well as other fascinating artifacts and paintings. Chris and Sandi, the owners told us, “the items were to remind people of the movie theme. The movie is the central theme. All of that is Sandi’s idea. She thought of which movie themes: Thomas Crowne Affair, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. We are not aware of any other hotel like this in the world.” We were treated the following morning to a homemade gourmet breakfast, which was included in the stay. As a rather muscular action movie star might say, “We’ll be back.”

If you have a passion for living a healthy lifestyle, your visit to Abbotsford will be fulfilling. The city is a gem of a place with healthy eateries, lots of outdoors activities, beautiful vineyards, parks, mountain views and lots more.

Look for next week’s feature as we explore Harrison Hot Springs……

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @christineruns

YouTube – runwithit

How to wake up in the morning if you are a night owl

Do you absolutely dread mornings and wish they didn’t exist?

DO NOT be alarmed! You are not alone! Mornings are the absolute worst, especially if you are a dedicated night owl. Unfortunately though, if you want to function in the real world, then you must learn to tolerate, and one day even enjoy mornings.

The best way to do this rather than wake up and throw pillows at your alarm clock, and show up to work looking like you’ve been at the rodeo is to develop a morning routine. Sound like a snooze? It is indeed the complete opposite, and will help you to wake up instead of rush out of the house in a mad frenzy every morning.

The absolute first thing you must do when you wake up is drink a tall glass of cold water with lemon if possible. It will immediately revive your dehydrated, tired body and give you that first kick to waking up. Once this task is complete, stretch from head to toe. And when I say that, I don’t mean simply raise your arms above your head. I’m talking a full-on cat stretch that engages every part of your spine.

Now you are ready to put your feet to the ground. Do it quickly before you lose motivation and fall asleep again. Once your feet are out of the bed, the day has started. Celebrate! Rejoice! You have achieved the first hurdle of your day. Next up, yoga.

Try doing 10 minutes of yoga, beginning with morning sun salutations. It gets the blood moving in your body and will help work out any kinks that developed through the REM cycle. If you prefer to self-lead, do so and if you need support, there are many 10 minute yoga videos to try out. Finding your preferred method of getting your body moving in the morning is essential, and if yoga doesn’t do it for you, try push-ups, Pilates, or jogging on the spot! Whatever works, simply remember to get your body moving.

After working up a (little) sweat, it is time for the shower. There is nothing better than feeling warm water on your skin and a meditation to go along with cleaning off the soap suds will surely set your day on track. When you are in the shower, close your eyes and visualize the warm water washing away all of your stress and anxieties. Imagine all of these fears washing down the drain and open your eyes renewed and refreshed physically and mentally. Listening to music in the shower is also a pleasant add-on.

Another essential, though it will come as no surprise since everyone is told to do this from age three onwards, is breakfast! Even if breakfast isn’t “your thing”, try to have at least something small and healthy to eat in the morning. If you are like me, and aren’t much of a morning muncher, try a smoothie instead. Make sure it is full of delicious and healthy ingredients including flax seed, berries (full of antioxidants), and protein powder for an extra kick. At this point, remember to take your daily vitamins too to keep your body vital and strong.

If you make this routine a regular thing and incorporate rehydration, exercise, a shower, meditation, and healthy eating into your morning, you will find that waking up becomes a pleasant experience rather than a complete and total drag. It is inevitable that people must wake up in the morning whether for work or school — so why not make it a happy part of the day?

What are parts of your morning routine? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Recipe: overnight oats with banana

I’m a big fan of this easy and simply overnight breakfast recipe. Just dump all ingredients in a jar, shake, put it in the refrigerator overnight, and then grab-and-go. It’s perfect for those who are super busy or just don’t want to have to deal with complicated breakfasts in the early hours of the morn. It’s also quite a refreshing post-workout breakfast for those who like to get up before dawn for a run.

 Ingredients

¼ cup of oats

½ almond or coconut milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ tsp of cinnamon

½ tbls of honey or agave

Banana or other fruit cut up into bite-sized pieces

Put all ingredients in a regular sized jam jar. Add fruit or nuts to taste. And then shake, shake shake! Maybe even dance around the kitchen a bit.

Put the jar in refrigerator over night.

It’s that simple! This breakfast is nutritious, full of fibre, and really tasty! You can heat up the oats in a microwave or it cold. Personally, I don’t mind it cold, especially if I add in some fresh fruit as opposed to frozen.

My suggestion would be to include half a banana (cut into small pieces) to help bind and fill up the spaces between oats. Add blueberries for a particularly refreshing taste. Other options include walnuts, apples, and mango for a Caribbean flavour.

Note: if you don’t enjoy the texture of oatmeal, you may not like this overnight recipe. Instead, why not try mixing chia seeds with milk, cocoa powder, and honey overnight to make a pudding!

Green Living Show even greener this year

Where do you go if you want Tibetean vegan momos, pants made out of tree fibres, and lectures about how cannabis can help you heal?

The Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is one of the largest environmental events of the year, featuring organic and delicious food, exercise, and how to build sustainably among many other things.  It is a festival that takes all things green and turns it into a massive trade show in support of an environmentally friendly world. The festival provides an opportunity to network, share, and learn about how many industries are involved in the ‘green’ trend that is growing in popularity every year.

So, how was the Green Living Show compared to last year?

It was definitely better for one main reason; the food! This year, the food pavilion had a centralized theme of ‘around the world’ fare. It had a range of options and also specified foods that were vegan and vegetarian, which was a fresh change of pace. The previous year, I struggled to find vegan options and this was frustrating at a green festival. The beer options were impressive as well, with a wide variety of craft brews, wines and ciders available.

The emphasis on medical cannabis was a new development, probably due to impending legislative changes around marijuana in Canada. The Green Living Show hosted the Weedmaps speaker series about Cannabis. The topics discussed by the panel included understanding which strains can help certain ailments, how to understand current marijuana laws, and how to cook medicinals. The Green Living Show is the perfect venue to educate and discuss the future of cannabis in Canada and its medial relevance, which is a very hot ‘green’ topic at the moment.

Another educational panel attended by Women’s Post was the urban farming speaker series that brought out Aquaponics start-up Ripple Farms, Holly Ray Farms, Orchard People, and Toronto Urban Growers, moderated by David McConnachie of Alternatives Journal. The panel explained various ways that urban farming can be implemented in the city. There were several vendors selling products related to indoor or urban farming, including sprouting containers and even indoor mini-hydroponic systems.

There were some return favourites as well, including the classic Canadian green car awards (Cheverlot Bolt won) and the beautiful set-up celebrating tree stewardship in Ontario.

The Green Living Show is an annual favourite of Women’s Post. The sheer size and popularity of the event really shows how much the green lifestyle is growing. It would still be nice to see more specifically vegan food options and vendors, but kudos to the ones that were there (including Live Wild Love Free). It will be exciting to see what happens next year.

What was your favourite part of the Green Living Show? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

 

Is Toronto stuck as the child poverty capital or can it raise a village?

Toronto is one of the most liveable cities in the world, but if you live in poverty with your children, it’s quite a different story. Ranging from long daycare subsidy waitlists, high rent, extraordinary transit costs, and expensive food, raising a family can seem nearly impossible.

Child poverty is a difficult pill to swallow and Toronto has been dubbed the Canadian capital in a report called ‘Divided City’ that was released in early November 2016. The report said that Toronto has the highest rate of low-income children in an urban area at 26.8 per cent.

Two years ago in November 2015, Toronto approved its first-ever poverty reduction plan after a report was released entitled ‘The Hidden Epidemic’, which outlined the impacts of child poverty in the city. Though child poverty has decreased from 29 per cent in 2009 to 26.8 per cent, it still impacts specific neighbourhoods in Toronto. The 2016 report is the first update since ‘The Hidden Epidemic’ and shows that child poverty has decreased overall, but is now concentrated to particular areas such as Regent Park, where 58 per cent of children live in low-income households. Families struggle to pay rents, using over 30 per cent of their income on rent (the threshold to be considered low-income) and children end up missing out on important recreation activities and parents struggle to feed their kids.

Unfortunately, with budget cuts the poverty strategy has been put on the back burner and important investments for children such as affordable housing and funding for recreation and daycare subsidies is facing debilitating cuts. The Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Family Service Toronto with Ontario Campaign 2000, Colour of Poverty and Social Planning Toronto came together to create the updated report to emphasize the need for City Council to stick to their poverty reduction goals and avoid cuts as much as possible.

One of these goals needs to be affordable housing. Currently there are nearly 100,000 people on the affordable housing waitlist and helping families to obtain housing needs to be a first priority to help reduce poverty for families. If most of your money goes towards paying rent, it is nearly impossible to escape the spiral of poverty. One third of families with children under the age of 18 live in unaffordable housing. The report also highlights that a lone parent living on Ontario Works would have to pay 107 per cent of their income in order to live in inner-city Toronto. This pushes families out to areas with less transit and away from many of the jobs in the city. Affordable housing in inner-city Toronto needs to become a priority immediately.

One solution that City Council discussed in the Executive Committee is the poverty reduction goal of providing low-income TTC fare cuts. This will help transit users to better afford their commute to more available jobs and help alleviate the pressures of living a low-income lifestyle. Executive Committee passed the ‘Fair Pass Program’ that would lower the adult single fare by 33 per cent and the adult monthly pass by 21 per cent unanimously. The program, if approved by council, will be implemented in March 2018.

Though the city is working towards implementing small measures as a part of their poverty reduction program, all cuts that involve children-led programs including housing, recreation and daycare subsidy, need to be avoided. Oftentimes, it seems that children get left behind in the wake of transit-focused initiatives when it comes to the city council budget. Most importantly, affordable housing solutions need to be offered immediately, including portable housing, recognizing the need for affordable housing based on using more than 30 per cent of a parent’s income on rent and changing rent control guidelines.

Children are the city’s most important priority and putting them first is the only way to make Toronto Canada’s best city. Every child deserves to play in a safe home without pests, and learn how to swim or play tae kwon do. Families also need access to healthy food and equitable employment opportunities where their children are in safe daycares so that parents can obtain employment or go to school. Only when Toronto loses its reputation as the child poverty capital will it be a safe place for families to live. Only at that point will the city of Toronto truly be a considered a village that raises a child.

5 new ways to spice up your coffee

Mornings can be rough. The nights are short, the kids are off from school, and frankly, it’s too nice outside to even think about spending your day in the office. If you’re like me, you’ll need that cup of coffee before you say your first word. Why not try something new in your daily brewing routine and try these five different ways to spruce up your coffee. You’ll thank us later.

  1. Stir in some black sesame powder:

Black sesame seeds are highly nutritious, packed with vitamin B1, fibre, magnesium and calcium (just to name a few).  Add in a teaspoon to give your coffee a rich, nutty flavour.  This tastes especially good with coconut or almond milk.

  1. Sprinkle on some spices:

You don’t need a trip to Starbucks for that gourmet kick in your cup of joe. Add in some ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or cardamom directly into your cup before you pour in your coffee for a refreshing spice kick. Alternatively, you could sprinkle on the spices after you have poured your coffee for a lighter taste. These spices are a great alternative to sugar!

  1. Try using a different type of milk:

Swapping out your usual milk and creamer can add a new unique taste to the coffee. Try using variations such as almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk or cashew milk. You can even pick between sweetened or unsweetened.

  1. Blend in some coconut oil:

Yes, that’s right, coconut oil.  Similar to the “bulletproof coffee,” this interesting add-in brings creaminess to the drink and can keep you full all morning.  Make sure you blend in the coconut oil so that is incorporated properly with the coffee!  This also makes it frothier – almost like a latté mmm!

  1. Try sweetening with maple syrup or pure vanilla extract:

Maple syrup contains 54 antioxidants and makes a healthy, low-calorie swap for your regular sugar.  Alternatively, you could add vanilla extract; just a few drops will do to add some sweet vanilla flavour.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try using almond extract.

You’re welcome.

How do you spruce up your coffee? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

How to make unpopular vegetables delicious

Fruits and vegetables are vital for your diet, and most people enjoy them in some form or fashion. Peppers and cucumbers, for example, are family favourites in a salad or a stirfry. But, what about the less popular vegetables such as radishes or rutabaga that aren’t so well-loved at the dinner table? These vegetables still have nutritional value and can be cooked to be delectable so that picky eaters will still enjoy them. Read below to find out how.

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Radishes

Radishes are a root vegetable that is often eaten raw. The radish is crunchy, with sharp flavour. If eaten in certain salads, the radish can actually be quite delicious, so don’t write off the strong taste quite yet! Radishes can be sliced or diced, and are full of vitamin C. The vegetable also has fibre, riboflavin and potassium. Radishes pair well with strong cheeses and are also yummy when doused in pepper and salt, with olive oil to balance the sharp taste.

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Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are another commonly unpopular vegetable, but are delicious when cooked in oil and spices until they are tender. Brussel sprouts have vitamin C and K, with folic acid and a lot of fibre as well. If you slice the center of the Brussel sprout prior to cooking, it will help tenderize the sprout. DO NOT overcook Brussel sprouts or the buds will become grey and soft, releasing an organic and smelly compound that contains sulfur. Cook with Dijon mustard to brighten the taste of the sprouts and add maple syrup for a sweet kick. Brussel sprouts also pair well with pinto beans in a burrito to add extra fibre to the wrap.

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Mashed Turnips

Turnips

People often turn their noses up at turnips, but they are another food that is full of nutrition. Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, folate and calcium are just a few of the healthy components in the vegetable. Interestingly, turnips contain cyanoglucosides that release small and non-lethal amounts of cyanide. Sensitivity to the cyanglucosides is controlled by an gene in each individual person, and some people have two sets of the gene. This makes turnips taste twice as bitter for some and delicious for others. If you are one of the lucky few, mash them and douse the mixture with olive oil, and chives for  yummy dish.

Rutabaga

Rutabaga, also known as a Swedish turnip is a hybrid root vegetable that is a cross between cabbage and a turnip. Similarly to other root vegetables, the rutabaga is full of vitamins and fibre. It also acts as an antioxidant if you have a cold. Rutabaga can be roasted, baked, boiled and used in a soup. Rutabaga julienned and sautéed in a red wine vinegar makes a delicious side dish that will have your taste buds flying. Mashing the rutabaga and mixing it with pepper and olive oil is also an option.

Beet lemon cupcakes. By Dennis Wilkinson.
Beet lemon cupcakes. By Dennis Wilkinson.

Beets

Beets are often overlooked in meal planning, but they can be cooked in a variety of ways that can hide the texture that most find unpleasant. Beets have zero cholesterol and very little fat content. Betaine in the vegetable lowers the chance of heart disease, and stroke, along with essential folate. Beets can be used in salads as a grated vegetable, and even in cupcakes, which adds a natural sweetness.

By preparing and cooking the root vegetables listed in a new and fresh way, you get a delicious new meal. The plus side: these veggies are often cheaper as well because they aren’t in as high of demand, so it is a way to save on groceries.

How do you like to cook any of the vegetables listed above? Let us know in the comments below.

Gardening 101: growing fruits and vegetables to plant now!

Planting fruits and veggies is a great way to spend time outside soaking up the sunshine — not to mention the delicious produce you’ll get out of it. Garden lovers know that Ontario has certain fruits and veggies that thrive in the region and many of them have to be planted, well, about now.

Gardening may seem time consuming but it teaches the value of patience and generates a newfound understanding of the hard work that goes into growing your own food. It is an initial investment but once you are in the swing of things, it is easy pea-sy!

First off, it is essential to determine when the last frost date is in your area so that you don’t accidentally kill your plants prior to their growth. The general date for Ontario is May 15th,, but last frost can range anywhere from May 15 to May 21. The farmer’s almanac, or otherwise known as the gardening bible, has a handy online tool to help out with the timing of seed planting. You can plug in your specific city, and it will lay out the specific plant times for various vegetables and fruits according to the weather that year.

Making a gardening plan or chart helps to plan out a planting schedule, so that you can ensure your plants are compatible. Tomatoes, for example, should not be planted beside potatoes because the soil quality weakens the sensitive tomato plants. Leafy greens are often compatible with most plants. In your plans, also remember to assess which plants need sunnier spots as opposed to more shade. Leafy greens can thrive in the shade, which allows you to plant vegetables like peppers, peas and carrots in the sun.

Provided by Slow Food Nation
Provided by Slow Food Nation

Let’s begin with leafy greens, which can be planted the earliest due to their hardiness in the colder Canadian climate. Lettuce, spinach, kale and cabbage can be planted in mid-march and harvested as soon as the beginning of June. If you get a head-start (no pun intended) on your these vegetables, you could be enjoying a homegrown salad just as summer arrives. Chard is also a great choice for a hardy leafy green. It will survive until hard frost and is more resilient than spinach. It’s important to remember that the soil temperature must be at least five degrees for the leafy greens to thrive. This can be easily determined by purchasing a thermometer and ticking it into the soil prior to planting.

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Peas, onions and potatoes can be planted once the soil reaches an internal temperature of 10 degrees. These veggies can be planted in mid-may and will yield successful crops. Excluding potatoes, the rest of the veggies also grow quickly and can be harvested as early as July. Potatoes can be harvested in late August and are often used in yummy fall harvest soups. Potatoes are very resilient and can grow in a variety of climates, which makes it a safe bet for any type of garden.

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More sensitive vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as most fruits, should be planted later in the season to ensure they obtain enough sunlight. Plant strawberries and tomatoes indoors first and transfer them outside in mid-June. Once you get them outside, make sure to tie them near a sturdy structure. Tomatoes are a vine-stalk vegetable and need to be propped up to thrive well in the garden. Though tomatoes are finicky, they grow very well in Ontario. The soil must be minimum 20 degrees for tomatoes.

If you want to try something a little more adventurous, try planting watermelon in late June. Be sure to have enough room for watermelon because it is a sprawling plant.

With fruits, insects may become an issue and natural pesticides can help keep bugs out of your garden. Vegetable or canola oil and garlic are natural repellants that can be mixed with water and applied. If cared for, strawberries can yield fruit for the whole summer and blackberries will provide a yummy supply of treats come fall.

Get that green thumb out and try your hand Get outside and try your green thumb out for a great outdoor experience this summer season. Whether you stick with just growing easy-going leafy greens or attempt the more specialized fruits and veggies, the outcome will be delicious. Trust me, there is nothing better than eating and sharing fruits and vegetables you grew yourself.

What’s your favourite fruits and veggies to grow? Let us know and post in the comments below!