Our friends at Canadian School of Natural Nutrition know a lot about good, healthy food. They run a number of classes and food skills workshops across the year at their Vancouver campus – everything from probiotic foods & beverages to knife & kitchen skills to raw food fundamentals. We asked CSNN’s marketing coordinator Lynne Faires, RHN to share some of her top tips for staying nourished this fall and winter, plus her recipe for a quick and easy Roasted Squash & Apple Soup…
Fall Cooking & Nutrition Tips
by Lynne Faires, RHN
Summer months mean more cooling foods such as fresh fruits, greens and herbs that we enjoy raw with grilled goodies cooked on the outdoor BBQ. Fall and winter make it less appealing to step outside and grill up a fancy dinner. However, that doesn’t mean that you must be without a hearty, warm meal that is exciting!
Know what’s in season in Vancouver
We are so fortunate to live in a climate where food can be grown almost all year round! Before you go shopping at your local farmers market, know what’s in season by checking out the list on their homepage. Plan a few recipes that include in-season foods before heading out the door.
The BBQ has been decommissioned for the next six months and that means that the slow cooker is in! The slow cooker (or crockpot) is my favourite way of cooking for many reasons, but mostly because it is quick and simple to use.
Prep the meal the night before and keep it in your fridge overnight. Pop it on to cook when you leave for work and when you arrive home, you have dinner ready! One-pan roasted meals are also great for a quick and easy meal, that warms up the house at the same time.
Warming Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices not only warm you up, but have many therapeutic health benefits as well. Find recipes that include warming herbs and spices such as black pepper, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, cardamom and horseradish to keep you toasty in the colder months.
Root vegetables are available all year round, but are at their peak from fall to spring. They are great to add to soups, stews or roast in the oven to go with your meal as a side dish. Beets, carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, parsnips, turnips, onions, and garlic all have their own nutritional benefits. Together root vegetables are packed full of fibre, vitamin A & C, potassium, and magnesium. They also offer a variety of anti-oxidants and help regulate blood sugar as they are high in complex carbohydrates.
As the days get shorter, so does our exposure to sunlight. We get much of our vitamin D from sunlight or from foods that have been enriched with synthetic versions. Vitamin D is known to help prevent and support brain, muscle, nerve and brain health disorders. At the market you can find a few whole foods that are naturally high in vitamin D. Eggs, fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) and mushrooms are all great sources.
Serve Hearty Meals
Eating fresh foods during the summer is great, but after a rainy day in Vancouver, you and your family most likely will be craving a warm, dense meal. Heat up home-made broth with a variety of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, squash, rutabaga, onion) for a delicious, quick meal. Add in your choice of meat for a heartier version.
Busy lifestyles make it hard to cook every day. Make things easier on yourself by doubling up on your favorite soup, chili, or stew dish and freeze portions for later.
Easy Roasted Squash & Apple Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash or two smaller squashes such as pumpkin, acorn or kabocha
- 1 medium onion cut in half- skin on
- 1 apple cut in half and seeds removed
- 1 can full fat coconut milk
- Optional flavours- add 1 Tbsp curry powder OR add 3-4 leaves of fresh or dried sage
- 1 liter of water or bone broth
- Sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Place halved squash on baking sheet cut-side down, with the apple tucked into the hollowed out ‘bell’ where the seeds were. Place onion halves on baking sheet as well
- Roast squash for about 45 min or until it is soft. For hard-shelled squash you need to test the fleshy side to see if it is soft
- Take out of the oven and flip the squash to cut side up to cool
- Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into the blender with the halved onion and optional flavours and coconut milk, adding just enough water to blend to desired consistency
- Season with sea salt to taste
- To store, pour into 1 liter jars and refrigerate or freeze (leaving 2” head-space if freezing)
- To serve, garnish with cilantro, fresh cheese, grated apple or fried sage leaves
Starting to feel autumn’s chill creeping into your bones? Warm up and get healthy with this week’s In Season post on bone broth, that age-old staple of traditional diets that is both nutrient-dense and deeply hydrating. The following nutritional info and recipes come from one-time VFM vendor Andrea Potter, who teaches a wide range of whole foods cooking classes both privately and at the Vancouver campus of Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
by Andrea Potter, RHN
Our ancestors were thrifty; they knew how to utilize every single part of the animal. They were also wise; bone stocks provide dense nutrition which is easily digested, the perfect food for children, the elderly, the sick, and for those of us who just live on the real world, and who need good food to fuel and heal ourselves in our busy lives.
Nutrition and Therapeutic Benefits of Bone Broth
+ Gelatin (made of collagen) from joint bones like knuckles, back vertebrae and feet, is a digestive aid. The gelatin in bone stock is a hydrophilic colloid. It is one of the only cooked foods that attracts digestive enzymes by attracting and holding water, including digestive juices. This is also why bone broth is deeply hydrating.
+ Collagen in bone broths is powerful in building new connective tissue and skin. Therefore, it is especially helpful in healing from surgery, healing injuries, benefits athletes, pregnant people, growing children and even improves the suppleness of the skin and improves hair growth.
+ Bone broths contain the minerals of the bone, cartilage and marrow, as well as the nutrients from the vegetables and the benefits of the herbs that they are cooked with.
+ Bone marrow is around 96% fat and contains myeloid and lymphoid stem cells. Within the animal, these cells create red and white blood cells and build immunity. Valued as a prized food source in many traditional populations, bone marrow was thought to nourish children and pregnant women. More studies are underway with renewed interest in eating the ‘odd bits’ and what their nutritional benefits are.
Here’s what you will need:
A stock pot –a 2 quart (8 liter) dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot is great. If you are interested in making a large quantity and freezing it, use a 20 liter pot. The larger the pot of course, the pricier they get. If your budget does not allow for a commercial heavy-bottomed stainless steel 20 liter stock pot, buy a big pot with a thinner bottom and a heat diffuser.
Roasting pan– the kind you put a turkey or chicken in is good. Any oven-proof vessel with sides is fine. Even a baking (cookie) sheet works.
Strainer – the idea is to get the chunks out, so a colander works. The finer the sieve or strainer, the clearer your stock will be. I have worked at restaurants who filtered bone broth through a coffee filter- three times for clarity. This may be excessive for the home cook, as there are no nutritional benefits to clearer bone broth. The usual kitchen stuff such as oven mitts or towels, chopping board and sharp knife, containers to strain the stock into…
Brown Stock Method for Beef, Lamb, or Venison
All recipes by Andrea Potter, RHN
- 5 lb bones of beef, veal, lamb, venison…
- 3 onions, large dice
- Optional: 1 leek, washed and large dice. Green part is ok.
- About 6 medium carrots, large dice
- Celery, 6 stocks
- 1 4-6 inch piece kombu seaweed
- 1 can tomato paste, or about 6 halves sun-dried tomatoes, or a couple of fresh tomatoes
- Thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and peppercorns
- It is best to have the butcher cut the bones from big animals. Otherwise you will be missing out on much of the flavour of the marrow within them. This also makes them easier to handle. Marrow bones have the most nutrition, but a few rib bones with meat still on them adds flavour too.
- Place the bones and veggies in a roasting pan and brown in the oven at about 375 F (190 C) or higher. This may take over an hour. Drizzling a little oil on them helps keep them from burning and sticking.
- Once they are brown, place them in a stock pot and more than cover the bones and veggies with cold water and add your spices, seaweed and herbs. Put on the heat and bring to a simmer. This will produce some scum. (The white-ish stuff that comes to the top.) Skim the scum with a ladle.
- Drain the fat from the roasting pan. ( This step is actually optional, and just for a clear stock. The fat always rises to the top when it cools, so if you are cooling it, just skip this step and add the fat to the pot).
- Those brown bits on the bottom are full of flavour. In fact, the French have a word for this. They call it ‘fond’, meaning foundation. De-glaze the pan using water, wine or vinegar. Add this to the stock pot or slow cooker.
- I like to cook my beef stock for 12-24 hours. I let it sit on the burner on very low overnight, covering it with a lid will ensure that it does not boil dry. (Don’t forget to crack a window in the house.)
- Strain the stock through a sieve or colander. Cool the stock by putting the bucket of stock into a sink full of ice OR by placing it by a cool window on a cooling rack. Once cooled, refrigerate. The fat will come to the top and harden. Keeping the fat undisturbed while cooling allows the stock to last much longer in the fridge or to freeze without freezer burn. (This keeps in the fridge for 5 days or so.)
- Freeze it in 1 liter containers for convenience. If you don’t have much room in the freezer, put the stock back into the pot and boil it down until it reaches a thick consistency. This is called demi glaze or demi glace. It is the base for all meat-based reduction sauces. You can add a few spoonful’s of this beef jelly to a soup made with water, and it’s basically the same as using regular-strength stock.
- 1 chicken carcass from roasting or a couple of packages of bones.
- 2 onions
- 2 carrots
- 1 leek (cleaned well), optional
- 3 stocks celery
- 1 bulb fennel(opt)
- 1 bulb garlic, cut in half width-wise
- A couple inch piece of kombu seaweed
- Either ¼ cup egg-shell vinegar (see side note) OR 1 lemon, cut in half
- thyme, bay leaf and black peppercorns
- Chop up all of the veggies big and chunky. In a roasting pan, drizzle the vegetables with oil and ‘toss’ them up to coat.
- Add the chicken carcass/bones to the veggies.
- Roast in the oven at 350F for 45 minutes or until it smells great and the veggies are a bit golden in colour.
- Then transfer them into a big pot and put your herbs and spices in. Add water until vegetables are submersed and water is about halfway up the pot. (About 3.5 liters)
- Then simmer for 4-8 hours and strain.
- Let liquid cool, then put into freezable 1 liter container and label with the date.
- See, that was easy!
Looking for bones from grass fed, free range animals for your broth? Vancouver Farmers Markets has a wide variety of ranchers and producers on our roster. Empire Valley Beef, Vale Farms, and Greendale Meats are great sources for beef, and Goldwing, K & M Farms, and Lamington Heritage Farm are all good choices for chicken and poultry. More info on vendors and products on our product search page.
Is there anything so satisfying as the first bite of a fall apple? One crunch and you know summer if officially over, but that apple is going to be your sweet companion through the long winter months, so you resign yourself just a bit…
Late September is truly the apex of the harvest season – a time when many summer crops are still available (hello, everbearing strawberries), but the goodness of fall is rolling in with all the gorgeous squash, grapes, and crisp apples appearing at the markets. We’ll be celebrating the bounty at our annual Fall Fair, which takes place this Sunday, October 1st at Mt. Pleasant Market.
How about them apples: Looking for heirloom apple varieties? VFM farms such as Klippers Organics, Harvey’s Orchards, and Stein Mt. Farm pride themselves on their selection, which include (but aren’t limited to) Ambrosia, Aurora Golden Gala, Belle de Boskoop, Black Oxford, Braeburn, Bramley, Early Gold, Gala, Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Granny, Honey Crisp, Macintosh, Mutsu, Newtown Pippin, Orange Cox Pippin, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Spartan, Sunrise, Winter Banana, and no less than six varieties of Russets!
Baking 101: Most apples are great for eating straight off the tree, but some are ideally suited for baking. While the sour and flavourful Granny Smith tops most lists, some cooks covet the Braeburn for its tart sweetness, or the Honey Crisp for its unbelievable crunch and structure that holds up well in pies and tarte tatins.
This week’s In Season Recipe comes from local food educator and self-described kitchen ninja Krista Ettles, whose Instagram feed @realfoodrealsimple abounds with beautiful pics of market-sourced meals. She suggests Granny Smith or Golden Delcious apples for her Apple Almond Cake, but we’ll let you decide…
Apple Almond Cake
1/4 cup butter
2 cups apples, sliced into 1/2 inch 4 medium sized (granny smith or golden delicious)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place butter in a 9-inch round cake pan. Place pan in oven for 5 minutes or until butter melts. Remove pan from oven. You can also use a cast iron pan and heat on the stove until the butter is melted. Arrange apples over almonds in a single layer. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the sugar and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, stir together almond flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, 1/2 cup of the sugar, almond extract and vanilla with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes or until light and thickened. Stir in flour mixture. Spoon batter over fruit mixture in pan, spreading evenly.
Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan. Invert onto a serving plate, replacing any apples that stay in pan.
Serve warm or cool.
Peppers are stealing the show these days at the markets, appearing at farmers’ stalls in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, flavours and spiciness. As versatile as they are nutritious (they contain more than 200% of your daily vitamin C intake), peppers can be stewed, stuffed, sauteed, dried, or – our favourite – eaten raw like an apple.
Char them outside on your barbeque for maximum flavour explosion served with a side of garlic yogurt sauce.
String them up for use later in the season – chili ristras make a colourful display in your kitchen and can be added to recipes all winter long.
Freeze them (no blanching required) after cutting them into desired portions. Best used in cooking, not eaten raw.
While peppers are found in many recipes, anyone who’s ever tucked into a bowl of Hungarian lesco or eaten chili rellanos knows that peppers can make for an amazing, stand alone dish.
This week’s In Season recipe, which comes from our friends at Vancouver-based design firm Danica Studio, incorporates both peppers and cherry tomatoes in a panzanella-style dish that serves up all the amazing flavours of late summer.
Sweet Pepper + Cherry Tomato Panzanella
By: Danica Studio
3 sweet peppers
Red wine vinegar
2 –4 slices bread (depending on size)
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup small mozzarella balls (or quartered medium mozzarella balls)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
Handful torn basil
Salt & pepper
- To toast the bread, drizzle olive oil onto the bread slices and place in the oven to toast.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and drizzle with some olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.
- Slice the peppers into 1-inch pieces and sauté in a pan with olive oil until softened. Drizzle with red wine vinegar when done.
- Toss all of the salad components together and let sit for 10 minutes before serving so the bread can absorbed some of the juices. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper.
Did you know that VFM’s producers grow over 150 varieties of tomatoes – everything from Green Zebra to Black Krim to Brandywine Pink? Many of these will be on display and for tasting at our 16th Annual Tomato Festival, taking place at Trout Lake Market on August 26 and Kitsilano Market on August 27.
With so many colours, taste profiles, and textures, tomatoes are perhaps the most versatile of vegetables (fruits??) and find their way into culinary traditions across the globe. Soups, stews, sauces, garnish, salads, or just eaten raw – tomatoes are both pleasing to the palette and the eye.
How to choose & store: tomatoes taste best fresh off the vine, making farmers markets the perfect source for them – many of our vendors pick them the day before (or sometimes day of) they come to market. Look for brightly coloured fruit that are not too firm – store them outside the refrigerator and out of the reach of sunlight, unless they need an extra bit of ripening time.
Planning to can? Check with your local farmer to see if they sell B-grade tomatoes at a reduced price for canning and preserving.
Roast ’em: Try roasting your tomatoes with garlic in the oven instead of the traditional blanch and peel method for canning – the smokey flavour works great as a base for chilies, soups, and sauces.
Get your vitamins: tomatoes are a great source of vitamin C, carotenoids such as lutein and lycopene, and potassium. Cooking tomatoes actually boosts their nutritional qualities, making recipes like the Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup below from gardening blogger Rebecca Cuttler of Abundant City a heart-healthy and cancer-fighting power house.
Vegan Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil-Miso Pesto
- FOR THE SOUP:
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (romas are ideal, but any variety will work)
- ½ cup roasted cashews
- ½ chili (optional)
- 3 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR THE PESTO:
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 cups fresh basil, stems removed, packed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions. On medium-low heat, cook until they are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cashews and chili. Turn up the heat and add the water. Cook until the mixture comes to a gentle boil.
- Transfer to a blender and blend on high until the soup becomes creamy. You may need to do this in two or three batches, using a large bowl to hold the extra blended soup. Once everything is blended, return the soup to the pot, give it a stir and add generous amounts of salt and pepper.
- The soup should have a nice creamy consistency. If it is too thick, add more water as needed.
- While the soup is cooking, make the pesto by combining all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Eat immediately or store for up to a week in the fridge. If storing in the fridge, use the smallest jar you can find to help prevent the pesto from oxidizing (turning brown) and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top. The also pesto freezes beautifully. Use an ice cube tray or mini mason jars to freeze the pesto in portions.
- To serve, pour the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of miso-basil pesto.