From the Crawl Space: Eating Local Produce in February

Written by Kailea Pedley, Off-Grid Farmer at Patchwood Farm, Piper’s Glen, Cape Breton It’s February and I’m thinking about that question for food-lovers in northern climes: how do we continue to eat healthy, local food through the winter months? I’ve … Continue reading

Get your bean on in 2016! It’s the International Year of Pulses

2016 is the International Year of Pulses. Read on to find out more about pulses, preparation and recipe ideas to embrace these healthy, affordable and sustainable foods. What are pulses? Pulses are seeds that are harvested and dried from the “pea … Continue reading

Five Awesome Kale Recipes

I wanted to write a blog post about how awesome kale is but then I realized just how much information was already here about kale. Therefore, I thought I’d bring some of the great kale recipes on the blog together … Continue reading

Resources are meant to be shared: Reflections on a Cooperative Growing Model

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about cooperative community models and their ability to inspire a sense of both pride and ownership across communites. Whether it’s a DIY bike shop, a tool lending library, or a place to purchase, prepare and learn … Continue reading

Raving about Rutabaga

Here is the fifth and final installment in our series about nutrition and winter vegetables from the students at Mount Saint Vincent University.  If you missed any of the past posts, you can find them here: turnip, kale, beets, and parsnip.  And now: rutabagas!

What’s the difference between a rutabaga and a turnip? From looking at these two vegetables you may not be able to tell that there is a difference. Even more confusing is that the rutabaga is sometimes known as the Swedish Turnip. One major reason for this confusion could be due to the fact that rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip, but they have a different and sweeter taste than the traditional turnip does.

This “turnip twin” is jam packed with nutrients and can be used many different ways- what more reason do you need to try these tasty and healthy vegetables? The major nutrients you will find in a rutabaga include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and niacin.

With 18% of your daily calcium intake in 1 medium size rutabaga you will get plenty of protection for your bones and teeth. The iron will provide you with energy production and keep your immune and central nervous systems healthy, while the magnesium is great for muscle contraction and transporting energy throughout the body. That’s not all this root vegetable can do for you. Rutabagas provide you with 32% of your daily needs for phosphorus, which will help with the production, and maintenance of DNA, cell enzymes and bones; and don’t forget niacin which also helps in cell and DNA repair and maintenance. The potassium in these veggies will keep your blood pressure healthy and the amazing 100% of your daily vitamin C will boost your immune system and help cuts and wounds to heal more quickly.

Here is a great recipe to try with rutabaga. Mix it with fresh local carrots and you have a great, healthy side dish for any meal

Lemon and Honey Carrots and Rutabaga (from

1 1/4 pounds rutabagas, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

Cook rutabagas in large pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes.
Add carrots and cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.
Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
Add lemon juice, honey, and peel. Bring to boil.
Add vegetables; cook until glazed, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat.
Mix in fresh chives.
Makes 6-8 servings

Pining for Parsnips

Here is the fourth in our series on nutrition and winter vegetables. Enjoy!

The parsnip is a root vegetable that look like a pale carrot. Much like carrots, you can store parsnips with the leafy tops removed in a breathable plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 weeks. Remember that when you get vegetables directly from a farmer, they will not have added chemicals or preservatives applied so they may last longer than those you buy in the store, or alternatively they may need to be used sooner. Just check on how they are keeping – soft mushy spots indicate that they are no longer good.LR_Small-2929

Parsnips are the sweetest of the root vegetables and spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger compliment them nicely. Parsnips provide a source of dietary vitamin C, folate, potassium and fibre. Vitamin C helps keep teeth and gums healthy in addition to helping wounds heal faster. Folate is important for the growth of new cells, and potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Fibre can help lower cholesterol, decrease constipation and keep you feeling full; most of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet and eating parsnips can help!

Parsnips are generally eaten cooked – but be sure not to overcook them (the texture is most appealing and nutrients are preserved when they are cooked just until tender). They can be baked (350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes), boiled (for 5 to 15 minutes), microwaved (cut in chunks and place in microwave safe dish with 2 tablespoons of water), or steamed (5 to 30 minutes – shorter times for smaller pieces, longer for whole parsnips). Serve them as a side dish, puree into soups, cut in chunks for stews, or add them to casseroles!

Here is a great parsnip soup recipe; a perfect meal on a cold winter day!

Parsnip and Carrot Soup
• 4tbsp butter, softened
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 450g (15oz) carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
• 1 level tbsp. freshly grated root ginger
• 1 level tsp. finely grated orange rind
• 600ml (1 pint) vegetable stock
• 125ml (4fl oz.) single cream (to reduce the fat in this recipe use whole or 2% milk instead).
• Salt and ground black pepper
• Sprigs of fresh coriander, to garnish

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the carrots and parsnips. Cover the pan until the vegetables have softened a little. Stir in the ginger, orange rind and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.
2. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the rinsed-out saucepan, stir in the cream (or milk), and season well with salt and pepper. Warm through gently over a low heat.
3. Remove from the heat and ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle pepper over and garnish your parsnip soup with a sprig of coriander.

Serves 4

Winter Salad, or What to make for dinner when your minestrone plan fails

I wanted to write a post about winter salads.  However, I like to make things up as I go along, so I don’t really have a recipe.  I’m sure this was once from a recipe, but I love to make substitutions, so I imagine it no longer looks anything like the original.  I also don’t like to measure.  Unless I’m baking, and sometimes, not even then. (Note: I DO measure and follow recipes EXACTLY when I preserve.  That’s important.)

Anyway, this is how I put together a winter salad…

Take out cookbook, and flip to tried and true recipe for minestrone. Go through fridge.  Realize that I am missing several key ingredients for minestrone.  Scrap minestrone plan and start pulling out ingredients with dinner potential.

Carrots? Check. Beets? Check. Tofu? Check.  Natural Peanut Butter? Check.  Winter salad it is!

Decide this is blog worthy and spend 5 minutes searching for digital camera.  Begin cooking.

Winter Salad with rice and peanut sauce
1 cup rice or quinoa

1 beet, grated
1-2 carrots, grated
3-4 mushrooms, sliced
1 pear, sliced
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 cup tofu, thinly sliced

Olive oil and/or sesame oil for frying
Splash of soy sauce

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 – 1/2 cup of warm water


1) Cook rice, quinoa or other grains.

2) Saute pear, mushrooms and broccoli for 5 minutes.  Place all veggies, including grated carrots and beets, into a bowl.  Add cooked rice, quinoa or other grain.

3) Fry tofu in olive/sesame oil.  Add a little soy sauce for flavour.  Fry until crisp.  Add to rice and veggie mixture when cooked.

4) Make peanut sauce.  Combine peanut butter, garlic, lemon, soy sauce, and ginger in a small container.  Add 1/4 cup of warm water.  Stir vigourously or mix with a hand blender.  If too thick, add additional water until desired consistency is reached.  The sauce should be the consistency of a milkshake.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

5) Serve salad.  Allow each person to drizzle peanut sauce on their serving.

Other potential winter salad additions:

Winter Salad with rice

cabbage, thinly sliced
sweet potato or regular potato, cooked and thinly sliced
dried cranberries
sunflower or pumpkin seeds
kale, massaged (link)
apple, sliced

This can also be a salad for all seasons.  It’s lovely with asparagus in the spring or cucumber and greens beans in the summer.

Yours in food,