Farm Fresh Greens

One of the basic philosophies of the raw food movement is that since humans evolved from primates, our most natural and health giving diet consists mainly of fruit. I love that philosophy…in theory.

Fruit is sweet and luscious and so delicious that I wholeheartedly embraced this way of eating  for the past few months. I embraced it until I noticed that I began severely lacking in energy and I kept getting sick (three times this winter compared to my usual one), and my skin wasn’t looking better, as all the raw food lessons, books and articles said it would. In fact it was looking a little worse. And I was craving protein. Even as I was studying my “Peak Performance” lesson which stated that protein was over-rated, I was severely craving protein. Something had to give. And so it did.

One day the image of a succulent, savoury piece of salmon wouldn’t leave my mind. No matter what I did or how I tried to lead my thoughts down another path, a path filled with raw carrots and bananas and mangoes, I couldn’t stop thinking about salmon. So, after much deliberation, I did what I had to do. I had to admit that the 80 -100% raw vegan life is not for me. Then I went out a bought the biggest wild salmon steak I could find. I jogged home with it, ripped my coat off, raced to the kitchen and covered my fish in lemon and capers and a thin layer of mayo. Then I proceeded to slow cook it at 180 degrees. The aroma was heavenly.

I really loved eating all of the recipes filled with sweet tropical fruit, honey and maple syrup but clearly I was consuming a bit more sugar, even if it was natural sugar, than my body could handle. So, as much as I like the ‘gorilla food’ theory there is also a theory that you should be eating food that is natural to your environment. So, if you’re living in the Yukon it would not be natural for you to be chowing down on kiwis and pineapple and if you’re living in Vancouver, eating wild salmon and greens and fruit that is indigenous to your environment would be the healthiest fare. Makes sense to me.

So, after a visit to the local farmer’s market, where I found the freshest greens and spouts I’ve tasted in a while, I have a farm fresh salad to share with you.  Enjoy.

Farm Fresh Greens

  • 1 cup fresh organic spinach or greens of your choice
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1/4 cup minced scallions
  • 1/4 cup various sprouts
  • sprinkle of Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
  • Dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mixed herbs and fresh apple (all ingredients to taste, blended together)

Nothing beats the taste of home.

Sooke Harbour House

With all of the political unrest south of the border dominating the news this week, I can’t think of a more soothing place to write about than Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island.

I was lucky enough to spend three nights there a few weeks ago and the whole experience was a blissful, back to nature retreat.

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Let me start with the view. Our room faced the ocean and we saw breathtaking vistas like this every day from our balcony.

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The hotel is quaint and luxurious at the same time, making a visit there feel like entering a warm haven from yesteryear. If I had to describe the visit in a metaphor, staying at Sooke Harbour House is like wrapping yourself in a fuzzy blanket with a good book beside you and a cup of delicious hot chocolate cupped in your hands. And, speaking of good books, the hallways of Harbour House are lined with shelves and shelves of books. There are also super comfy love seats nestled in the hallway, waiting for someone to sink into them and dive into one of those good books.

sooke harbour house

sooke harbour house

Leave your room for an afternoon and you’ll see that the grounds around the Inn are filled with an edible garden. Herbs, lettuces, root vegetables, fruit trees and lots of beautiful edible flowers make the garden a delight to walk through. And later at dinner, the unbelievable freshness of your meal is a foodie’s dream. This is due to so many food items being picked from their very own garden but also because they source almost all of the menu items from the Island. Sooke Harbour House is an example of the 100 Mile Diet at its best.

Then there’s room service. Here we have garden pomme frites, a chanterelle soup and garden salad topped with pretty edible flowers.

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Everything tasted amazingly delicious, as did every other meal eaten in the two restaurants, The Copper Room and The Restaurant. If you’d like to make this rich and creamy soup at home, so you can cuddle up in a fuzzy blanket and forget about all of the worries of the world for a while, let me help you out…

Sooke Harbour House’s Chanterelle Walnut Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups wild chanterelle mushrooms, brushed and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, shelled
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
20 fennel seeds
10 coriander seeds
10 cumin seeds
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream (or whole milk for a lighter version)
2 fresh or dried bay leaves

Place butter in large, stainless steel pot over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add mushrooms, walnuts, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds, and saute until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften (about 10 to 13 minutes). Add garlic and ginger, and saute for 5 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add white wine and increase heat to high. Reduce wine until approximately 1/4 cup remains. Add stock, cream, and bay leaves, and bring to boil. Then, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat; remove and discard bay leaves. While soup cools, prepare garnish. Place whipping cream in medium-sized bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Once soup has cooled for 30 minutes, puree in blender at high speed in small batches for 2 minutes each, or until very smooth. Return puree’d soup to pot. Bring to boil and serve. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each with a dollop of whipped nasturtium cream. Serves Six.

 

Delicious, raw-licious peach parfait

My infatuation with raw, fruit-filled food is continuing far longer than I thought it would. This might be because I’ve cut most sugars from my diet and the naturally sweetness of the fruit in my recipes is soothing the sugar monster inside of me.

Also, at this time of year, when the Okanagan is harvesting its amazingly fresh and juicy fruit, it would be almost sac-religious to not make use of the abundance of freshness at our finger tips. Last weekend the farmer’s markets were overflowing with ripe peaches and plums. I bought a bunch of them and this is what I made:

Peach Parfait

Layer:

  1. Peaches
  2. Banana/coconut milk puree
  3. Plums

Top with coconut and that’s it. You’re done.

Fresh. Raw. Delicious.

A raw-licious parfait

My oven’s broken. It suddenly decided that it didn’t feel like heating up past 180 degrees. This happened last week and will probably stay that way for a couple more weeks (or months) before I get around to having it fixed.

As you know from this post and many others, I have a bit of a fascination with raw, vegan food. And what better time to renew my interest than when I have a broken oven?

One of the recipes I experimented with lately was so delicious that it has become my daily breakfast. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t share it with you?

Blueberry Bliss Parfait

Alternate layers of fresh blueberries with layers of puréed banana and coconut milk (two bananas and two T coconut milk blended), then top with lots of flaked coconut.

Be careful though, it’s addictive.

A Halloween Smoothie

I like to describe myself as a lone wolf. That sounds more glamorous and dangerous than saying I’m an introvert who lives alone (which is what I’m really saying). I don’t have children or a hubby or any family living on the West Coast and I find that I tend to miss out on a fair amount of family-type traditions. So when my friend Robyn told me she was visiting a pumpkin patch with another friend and her daughter, I found “Ooh, can I come along?” coming out of my mouth before I even realized it.

I guess I miss those family traditions a little more than I like to admit and, really, what is October without the ritual of a trip to a family farm and pumpkin patch?

I grew up in the country, surrounded by farms and I had definitely forgotten how much I miss hanging out with chicken, sheep, horses and how much I like the smell of manure. Yes, like the smell of manure. You can take the girl out of the country but….

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It’s said that All Hallows’ Eve is one of the nights when the veil between the worlds is thin – and whether you believe in such things or not, those roaming spirits probably believe in you, or at least acknowledge your existence, considering that it used to be their own. Even the air feels different on Halloween, autumn-crisp and bright. – Erin Morgenstern

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 frozen banana
1/2-1 cup unsweetened almond milk, or other dairy-free milk
2 T. agave or maple syrup (optional)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
Small pinch of cloves
Small pinch of Himalayan pink or sea salt

Blend and serve.

Note: I made this smoothie twice. Once with almond milk and all of the above ingredients and it tasted exactly like a liquid pumpkin pie. The second time, in a hurry, I used coconut milk, a splash of water, pumpkin insides (with a few raw seeds too), banana and cinnamon and it was like a tropical version of the recipe with a subtle, natural sweetness.

And, in the spirit of zero waste, the pumpkin seeds were roasted (yum) and my sweet, little jack-o-lantern will be composted when the time comes. Waste not, want not and keeping food scraps out of our land-fills.

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Wishing you a fun, creepy and treat-filled Halloween! xo

Flowers in the Rain

I took an extra day off last weekend to squeeze in as much beach time as possible before summer fades into a distant memory. And, guess what? The weather report lied. It had shown a sky full of a happy, smiling, bright yellow sunshine and what the weather gods delivered was a misty, grey Vancouver day accompanied by the gentle pitter patter of mellow but constant raindrops.

So, after taking some time to be annoyed at not being able to spend my day strolling on the seawall, I took Nick for a walk in the neighborhood and found this…

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My neighbor’s zucchini garden. The bright, sunshine-y flowers were almost shocking against the muted greys and greens of the rest of my world. My neighbor had already told me to help myself to his garden, so I obliged.

Pan-fried zucchini florets are one of my favourite things and they are so easy to prepare:

Fresh Zucchini Florets with Blue Cheese

  • Pour a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan
  • add as many florets as you have or will fit into the pan
  • fry until soft
  • add crumbled blue cheese at the very end (local, organic is always best)
  • put on a pretty plate and serve

One word of warning: When you start growing your own food and/or foraging, bugs often make an unwanted appearance. Unlike conventional food which is radiated, gmo and/or sprayed to within an inch of it’s life with pesticides, real food is a yummy home for a number of insects. After I thoroughly washed the outside of my florets, I put them in the pan and, guess what? Two slugs quickly appeared and ran around, as if to say “Why is it getting hot in here? What the heck is going on?” I grabbed a piece of paper and guided them out of the frying pan and into a pot in my balcony garden, screaming periodically whenever they crawled towards my hand.

Anyway, this can happen with fresh, organic food so be prepared. I think it’s a small price to pay for the exquisite, just picked taste and health benefits of real, unaltered, honest to goodness food.

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Gillian Aldrich started growing vegetables in her backyard three years ago, and she’s now working on planting a bed of hydrangeas along one side of her property. As she digs in the garden, her 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son often play around her, sometimes taking a break to dig for worms or pick strawberries. Instead of watching them, Aldrich is playing, too — “my kind of play,” she says.

“When you sit at a desk all day, there’s something about literally putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually creating something that’s really beautiful,” says Aldrich, 42, a magazine editor in Maplewood, New Jersey. “There’s something about just being out there that feels kind of elemental.”

Aldrich isn’t the only one who feels this way. Many gardeners view their hobby as the perfect antidote to the modern world, a way of reclaiming some of the intangible things we’ve lost in our busy, dirt-free lives. – Health.com

Wild Berries

Berries are unbelievably good for you. They’re full of anti-aging anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals and are also “juicy foods”, meaning that they are mostly water and, therefore, incredibly hydrating. Freshly picked berries are also full of live food enzymes that are so good for every single cell in your body.beach and berries2

Wild blackberries grow in abundance at the beach near my home and I decided it was time to have one last berry-picking afternoon before the season was over.

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Nick, the camouflage dog,  always finds a lot to investigate on a nature walk/berry hunt.

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We made it to the path leading to the berry bushes.

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Forget the berries, let’s play!

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The beautiful decay of fall is starting already.

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Uh oh, the ripe ones have been picked over by birds (or pesky humans).

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But these haven’t…

At home, I mix the wild blackberries with raspberries from the local Farmer’s Market. Then I add Rain or Shine Apricot Blackberry Sorbet (the pint of vegan Chocolate Chunk is for later). Rain or Shine just opened in the neighborhood and make their ice cream from local, organic ingredients right in the back of their store. This local love is reflected in the ice cream’s incredible flavour and their ice-cream is a little like crack cocaine for foodies.  Next I add Frostbites, a Whistler, BC company that makes unbelievably delicious fruit cordials from local, organic produce.

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And, voila, a fresh, local, wild, extra special Sunday dessert.

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#eatmoresugaryourenotquitesweetenough