Tag Archives: nutrition

Wolfville Farmer’s Market – One Brick at a Time

The Plans - Photo Credit, Bruce Dienes

Eighteen years have passed and it’s been a long and fruitful journey for the volunteers, directors and staff of the Wolfville Farmers Market. Starting with three vendors in a parking lot, this community hub has been transformed into a bustling intersection of business and pleasure. Live music plays prominently every Saturday morning like a piper, enticing neighbours and tourists alike to spend an hour or two taking in all of the flavours of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley. Well known for its sensational array of apples, berries, organic produce, and rich, red soils, the region is an integral piece of the Nova Scotia food map. It’s a true coming of age story for the little farmers market that can, and with a big fundraising campaign underway, the Wolfville Farmer’s Market is casting off its outgrown, outdoor shell and will be moving into its new home in September, 2011.

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Benefits of the Bubbly – Locally Brewed Kombucha

Kombucha, a fermented tea drink, is touted as enlivening, refreshing, and full of health benefits. This tonic is made from simple ingredients and lovingly brewed to offer better digestion, B vitamins, and immune boosting enzymes. Zoey Shamai of The Fairy’s Tonic, graciously invited me to visit her processing facility to learn more about the mysteries of Kombucha and tell me about how her small business is taking off.

The Fairy's Tonic Kombucha

While living at an ashram in New Mexico, Zoey was introduced to the “clean energy” and feelings of vitalityoffered by the bubbly treat. Everyone was doing it, and would share the bacterial cultures with one another freely. It didn’t take her long to get the hang of it, and upon returning to Toronto, advocated and facilitated the brewing of Kombucha at Live, a raw oriented restaurant where she worked. She insisted on having it on the menu as it was such a hit in the South West. With several brands commercially available in the United States, especially in California, she had a hunch that starting a business manufacturing small batches in Toronto would be worth her while. This seed has grown into quite a viable business and Zoey has chosen to roll with it full time, giving up her position at Live and teaching yoga. Despite some challenges in distribution, The Fairy’s Tonic is quickly being picked up across the city and across the country, making it more readily accessible for the masses. I was shown a photograph of an entire fridge display at a Whole Foods in BC devoted to the multiple flavours and sizes available. It’s huge for a small operation like The Fairy’s Tonic to be listed in bigger chain stores and reinforces the demand for the products. As more and more people are becoming aware of how Kombucha aids in digestion and offers antioxidants, B vitamins and probiotics, they are seeking out the good stuff. Other commercially available Kombuchas are often pasteurized, causing the drink to lose many of its “living” qualities that make it so great. The Fairy’s Tonic prepares its products with organic green or black teas, organic evaporated cane sugar, purified water, and a culture that continues to renew itself by making babies that can be used for the next batch. It is so simple, you wonder why there isn’t a gallon jar of it brewing in every kitchen. The downside is that it has to ferment for 15-21 days, and patience is paramount. When the baby separates from the mother, that’s when you know it’s ready to enjoy.

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Taking the Mystery Out of My Miso

Norman Ayerst, Jerry Lewycky, and Suzanne Cardinal of Tradition Miso

Miso is a fermented food made primarily out of rice or barley, soy, water, unrefined sea salt and a lot of time. Tradition Miso is an artisanal miso made with passion, love and a long history behind it. Jerry and Suzanne have traveled extensively to perfect their skills and offer their customers a truly beautiful product.  The myriad health benefits of miso include being chock-a-block full of immune supporting digestive enzymes, a good source of vegetarian B12, and whole slew of protein, minerals and vitamins.

So how is it made? I have always been curious and when the chance to visit the processing plant came my way, I pounced! First, the Argentinian rice is steamed, then a culture direct from Japan is added to the rice and mixed thoroughly. After being kept warm with steady increases in temperature, it is mixed in with the certified organic, Ontario soy beans which have been soaked and cooked (see photo), and hand harvested, sun dried sea salt from Portugal is added. From there the concoction is aged in Cyprus wood barrels from a few months, for the Mellow Miso, up to three years.

The dedication to their craft is admirable, and Jerry and Suzanne are in it for the long haul. Having recently sourced a new space, the business is transitioning into a phase of considerable growth, while mindfully avoiding mass production, they have invested in new bottling equipment, recipes using chickpeas in place of soy, and are brainstorming new ways of marketing their products to share the benefits of miso with everyone! I especially love to sip on a simple miso soup when I do a cleanse or fast if I’m craving a salty alternative to herbal teas, master cleanse lemonades, or fresh pressed juices. Some of even the most extreme raw foodists encourage eating unpasteurized miso in all sorts of different ways to take advantage of the B12, digestive enzymes, and the comfort of a warm bowl of soup.

So, love the miso you get with your sushi at the cheap and cheerful restaurants littered throughout the city, but don’t want to consume all that MSG? Pick up a bottle of the Organic Brown Rice, 3 year aged Tradition Miso at fine stores across Ontario. If you would like me to suggest retailers that are carrying it in your area, don’t hesitate to ask me.

Instant Miso Soup

1 cup boiling water (let sit for one minute to cool from boiling)

1 Tablespoon Miso (or to taste)

Garnish with chopped green onions, diced silken tofu, or cultivated enoki mushrooms to add texture.

Add hot water to miso a little at a time, stirring until smooth. Garnish. NOTE: To retain all the beneficial properties of an unpasteurized miso, try not to boil or cook at high heat.

Muffin-Scones

So, what do you do when your muffins don’t really turn out like muffins? Call them muffin-scones, and pretend nothing is wrong with them whilst wrapping them prettily in wax paper for friends for their morning snack!

This recipe is moist and full of beta-carotene and EFAs, and with a bit of intuitive baking (yes there is such a thing), you’ll do fine! After all, nobody has any expectations for a muffin-scone anyway, and they’re delicious!

Sweet Potato, Date, Hemp, Almond Muffin-Scones

(Makes about 20-24)

Alex and the Muffin-Scones

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup sweet potato flour (Weninger’s Beta-Pro)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon (I think nutmeg and ginger would be good in here as well, but might taste a bit Xmas)

1/2 cup sugar (as unrefined as you desire, could use a less)

8 tbsp oil (canola probably best)

1 egg

1/2 cup almond milk (recipe below)

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cup steamed and diced sweet potato

3/4 cup dates, chopped and no pits!

1/4 cup hemp seeds (Ruth’s Soft Hemp is best on the market, Canadian and Organic!)

1 cup almond pulp (what’s left over after you’ve made almond milk, recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sweet potato flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, mix together oil and sugar, beat in the egg, almond milk and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together without over mixing. Fold in almond pulp, dates, sweet potato, and hemp seeds. Get creative with nuts, seeds, dried fruits, the world’s your oyster (although, I wouldn’t recommend oysters)! Spoon into greased muffin tins, or shape into scones on a cookie sheet if dry enough. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating them once along the way.

Almond Milk and Pulp

Almond Milk & Pulp

1 1/2 cup almonds, preferably unpasteurized, organic, raw varieties (ask questions, hard to find!)

2 1/2 cups purified water

Blend in a blender on high speed until really smooth. Place several layers of cheesecloth in a sieve over a tall bowl and pour mixture over. After most of the liquid has passed through, collect the pulp in the cheesecloth and give it a really good squeeze, twisting the cheesecloth at the top to extract every last drop. Sweet sweet milk, and oh so fine pulp, useful for so many things! You can add a couple of dates to the mix too before blending if you’d like it a bit sweeter, or vanilla if you’re into that kind of thing.