Local Food Rocks!

Eight local musicians contributed their time and creative energy to the local food cause on May 6 in Amherst, at the 3rd annual Musicians for Local Food fundraiser. From folk to country, to classical accordion and good old rock ‘n … Continue reading

Getting Kids Acquainted with Real Foods

A lot of parents have a hard time getting their kids to like ‘real food’.  Food marketed towards children is usually loaded with fat, salt and sugar and highly packaged in brightly coloured plastic that promises oodles of fun.  Products geared towards kids are getting more and more over the top all the time – just check out this video:

As if we needed ways to make processed wieners easier and ‘more fun to eat’!

Once a kid is hooked on this stuff, it can become more difficult to successfully introduce them to food in a more natural state.  Edie Shaw-Ewald writes about the challenges of raising kids to love real food in the Spring 2011 edition of ‘Our Children: Halifax’s Family Magazine’ and believes it’s important to re-connect kids to the idea that food comes from somewhere – whether it’s from a tree, the ground or a factory, which can help motivate them into making better food choices.  Kids also have a greater chance at building a good relationship to ‘real food’ if they are involved with its production somehow.  If you have a garden, have them help you out or give them a row of their own to take care of.  When you’re cooking, have them help you with the simple prep tasks.

All these ideas are great but it can still be hard to convince kids to eat certain veggies.  This weekend I was testing some spinach recipes for an upcoming demo at the Truro Farmers Market, and I found a few that just might make ‘eating your greens’ a little more palatable for kids.  Here are a few recipes to try out – let us know how your kids liked them!

Garlic Spinach Dip 

2 Tablespoons garlic (about 5 cloves)

8 cups fresh spinach (cooks down to about 1 cup)

8 ounces Foxhill Quark or light cream cheese

¼  cup milk

Dash of salt, dash of Tabasco

1. Sauté garlic in 1 tsp oil until soft.

2. Chop the spinach, then add to fry pan one handful at a time as it wilts, adding a little water as needed to prevent sticking.

3. Move the spinach to a blender, and add the remainder of ingredients.  Cover and blend until smooth.  (Alternately, place all ingredients in a small deep bowl, and mix with a stick blender).

Tastes great as is or heated through and served warm!  Garnish with chopped tomato or shredded Monterey Jack cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips, toasted pita wedges, or fresh veggies.

 Spinach ‘n Cheese squares

3 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour (use a combination of white and whole wheat flour)

1 tsp baking powder

2 ½ cups (1 lb) of cheese

½ pound (7 or 8 cups) chopped fresh spinach  (If you’re using cooked spinach, use about a cup and a half).

1.  Mix together the first four ingredients, and then add the spinach and cheese and mix well.

2.     Press into greased square baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 350F until knife comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.

Eat your greens!

We’ve been invited to the Truro Farmers’ Market to do a cooking demonstration.  The topic: What to do with greens.  Beet greens, arugula, swiss chard, kale, spinach…

We’ll pulled out our cookbooks to explore the wide variety of recipes that use greens. Arugula pesto, saag paneer, spinach squares with cheese, kale salad, spanakopita.   (Now I’m getting hungry!)  Greens are abundant in spring and SO healthy.

While we ponder what to make for our demonstration next week, check out last night’s dinner.

Green Goddess Rice Bowl (adapted from Eating by the Seasons)

1 head broccoli
1 head bok choy, torn
1 bunch green kale, torn
1 bunch swiss chard, torn
6 cups cooked brown basmati rice (or quinoa)
1 batch tahini sauce (recipe below)
2 sheets nori, torn
1/3 cup sunflowers seeds
1/2 cup white pickled ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
Oil for the pan
1 block tofu, thinly sliced

Tahini Sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sesame butter (tahini)

Tahini Sauce:

Whiz garlic, parsley, salt and lemon juice in a blender or food processor.  Add the water and tahini.  Run until smooth, scraping the sides once or twice.

Green Goddess rice bowl:
Steam broccoli and greens until they are tender and bright green.  Fry tofu in oil with a little soy sauce.  (Careful – it may splatter!)  Put 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice in a bowl.  Place nori pieces on rice.  Arrange steamed greens and broccoli on the brown rice.  Sprinkle with sunflowers seeds.  Drizzle 2 tbsp of tahini sauce on top.  Garnish with a small mound of pickled ginger.  Repeat for each serving.

Marla’s Notes: Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients.  This dish is infinitely flexible.  Basically, I just make the rice (or quinoa), then make the tahini sauce, then go through some fridge for vegetables to put in it.  Last night it was broccoli, asparagus, baby arugula and mystery greens (the latter two I didn’t even bother to steam).  I also threw on some cucumber.  Don’t like tofu? – No problem, put in chickpeas.  Out of sunflower seeds? – Put in walnuts.  Experiment!

What to eat in the winter and earliest spring

Spring has sprung and I am thankful now for the spinach, leeks, parsnips and parsley that I planted in August and allowed to winter over. They emerge now from the snow with some tasty edibles and the promise of more on the way. Next year I will add chard, broccoli, beets and rutabagas to my fall planting. Trying to winter-over carrots was a disasterous, slimy corky failure. My friends who are lucky enough to own greenhouses are boasting greens that have thrived all winter; chard and spinach, lettuce and beet and turnip greens, those magical plants that can survive a frost and keep on growing through the feeblest sunlight we have to offer.

Nettles encroach on chives

All winter I have been taking advantage of dandelions that I have dug up, then “forced” in my basement, planting and watering them in complete darkness. They grow thin blanched leaves in a vain attempt to capture sunlight, rendering their root-energy into a tasty salad green. Cruel perhaps, but a Canadian winter requiers such measures. This year I would like to start some Belgian Endives and force those greens also.

Wild weeds have also wintered over that can be picked now: chickweed, ground ivy, violet leaves, Dandelion crowns, wintergreen leaves and berries, the last cranberries, common mallow. My nettles are sprouting along with the first chives. Back in the garden perennial herbs are still around or coming up; thyme, sage, oregano and lemon balm, and, of course, the maple sap is running.

With some preparation in the late summer, winter and early spring need not be without local fresh greens.