It's springtime here in Ontario. According to the calendar been springtime for nearly two months, but the weather finally feels like spring. I get really excited with the warmer weather and not just because I'm not a fan of the cold. Sure, March brings maple syrup, and I look forward to that every year, but his time of year, May, is when the new cycle of vegetables begins. Next month we'll start to see fruit and in a month and a half the strawberries will be out. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. This post is about the start of spring vegetables! Over the next few days, I'm going to profile a few of these.
It's been awhile since I blogged regularly and I'm trying to get into a new routine – blogging first thing in the morning – and getting back to what I used to do well, in blog posts and newsletters for the CSA program I was part of. That is, research and present my research. After all, this website is about curating content and educating. My blogging mission statement for the past several years and through several blogs has been “writes to educate”.
This post was originally published on May 8, 2014, to my previous website, canadianfoodiegirl.com. Other, more recent posts on this topic will follow.
On Monday while watching Breakfast Television I learned from Mairlyn Smith that May is Celiac Awareness Month.
To borrow from a Huffington Post article about Celiac Awareness Month:
May is Celiac Awareness Month. It's a prime time for those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (“gluten sensitivity”) to pull together and rise above the noise of the gluten-free fad diet. And while Celiac Awareness Month is an exciting time for our community, it's not just about us. It's about the 83 percent of you out there living with celiac disease and not even knowing it.
In the article, Alice Bast raises some amazing points.
“The biggest barrier to celiac disease diagnosis is its very treatment — the gluten-free diet…. Casually experimenting with the gluten-free diet could prevent you from receiving an accurate diagnosis as people must be on a regular, gluten-containing diet in order to be accurately tested for celiac disease. “
This is one of the reasons celiac disease (defined below) is under-diagnosed professionally. I've seen friends put off getting testing done because they don't want to experience the pain that gluten causes, just to get a diagnosis. I believe that if you feel better not eating gluten, don't eat it. It's a simple elimination diet. I'm not saying that you shouldn't get tested, but you don't need a professional diagnosis to label you and you don't need to label yourself. You don't need to say “I'm celiac” or “I'm gluten intolerant”, just “I feel better when I don't consume gluten.”
That said you might want to get tested because 1) celiac disease is hereditary, 2) to rule out other ailments that might have similar symptoms, 3) to know for sure. Sometimes confirmation provides peace of mind.
gluten isn't some fattening ingredient or the golden ticket to weight loss
Two responses here:
1. Processed food is still processed food and junk food is still junk food, even if it's gluten free. Follow the rule of not eating crap. I don't care if those chocolate cookies are made gluten free, they're still chocolate cookies. Enjoy them for what they are, but don't fool yourself into thinking that they're healthy.
2. I've ranted before about people who go gluten free not because it makes them feel better, but because they've been told it will make them lose weight, or because they've heard that gluten is “bad”. Those people tend to not know what gluten is, just that it's the new evil. I suspect there's a placebo effect to avoiding gluten too. That is, the positive effect comes from the belief. This isn't a bad thing. Feeling better is feeling better. The bandwagon-jumping gluten avoiders piss off true celiacs and gluten intolerants who would eat gluten if it didn't make them feel like crap. Or so many of them have told me. In a way, then, the bandwagon jumpers are taking some of the perceived credibility away from those who are suffering from the disease (or, if undiagnosed, those who truly feel awful after consuming gluten) and turning the whole concept of “gluten free” into something not taken seriously when it is serious to those who get sick from it. I've heard tales from people who are truly celiac or gluten intolerant or sensitive sometimes who find themselves telling wait staff, “No really…” and trying to distinguish themselves from people who treat it casually.
On that note, let's look at what celiac disease is and what gluten is:
This weekend in Toronto: The Green Living Show
I stopped by yesterday morning before it opened for a media preview. I didn't get to see everything, because not every booth was set up and I had a long to-do list outside of the show, but I did take particular interest in a food startup company called C-FU Foods/One Hop Kitchen. I'm a sucker for startups. I'm currently working for my third. Here's a description from the C-FU Foods website:
Through our innovative process we’ve created a healthy meat replacement that helps you create culinary staples like burgers, schnitzel or nuggets. It can also act as an alternative to eggs or butter, making it as adaptable as it is sustainable. It’s even a protein powder that you can whip it into a morning shake.
If you think that this refers to soy or wheat gluten or something else vegan, you're wrong.
I thought I got a photo of the sauce on pasta but I can't find it.
There are an estimated 1,462 species of recorded edible insects
The company has two branches. One Hop Kitchen makes their sustainable Bolognese sauces made with crickets & mealworms.
Here are some facts about cricket meal/flour:
- It contains 10x the amount of B12 as salmon* (Source: Cricket Flours – though one of the lads from C-Fu Foods mentioned high B12 too, and so that's the first thing I googled for this post.)
- It contains 5.9mg of iron per 100 grams, which is almost TWICE more than the amount you get from spinach, 3.5mg per 100 grams. (Source: Cricket Flours)
- By dry weight, a single cricket ranges between 65% – 70% pure protein. Beef is between 17% – 40% protein, with the rest being primarily fat (Source: Cricket Flours)
- 100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, 3.10 mg. of niacin and .05% fat.
(source: Insects are food)
I didn't flinch when I found out about the sauces. I'd been to a bug-tasting dinner before and listened to presentations about eating insects for environmental sustainability and health. My exact phrase to the lads at the table, the first time this phrase has ever left my lips, “It's a psychological mind fuck.”
I did a blind taste test of three sauces. One meat, one mealworm, one cricket. I got them all wrong.
If you're at the Green Living Show this weekend, look for the booth. Can make it this weekend? They'll have a booth at The Gladstone Hotel's Grow Op event on April 22.
Ryza is nice-a was originally published to my other blog, Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on October 23, 2012. This is another one of my favourite posts ever from that site. It may have gotten ideas turning about a separate website for health and wellness. It was definitely a turning point, because who goes to a cooking class sponsored by rice milk and ends up writing about anti-nutrients and phytonutrients?
I recently participated in an interactive cooking class at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens, lead by Chef Patricia Muzzi of Mood Food Culinary. The class featured Ryza brand rice milk.
In the first part of the evening, Chef Muzzi introduced us to the recipes we'd be using, discussed their affects on the brain and gave suggestions for incorporating them into everyday cooking. Her company's mission is to bring awareness to the vital connection between food and the brain and how it impacts overall health and well-being. That's my language.
Participants were split into three groups to create an appetizer, entrée and dessert using Chef Muzzi's recipes with Ryza as the featured ingredient.
On the menu:
Zucchini & Bell Pepper Fritters w Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce
Turkey Scaloppini with Leeks & Peas in wild mushroom sauce
Sweet Vanilla & Peach Risotto Pudding w Dark Chocolate
I dredged the turkey. You might have read this post in which I talk about my hands being my favourite kitchen tool.
Truthfully, I didn't notice the mention of Ryza in the event invitation. When, upon arrival, I learned that the purpose was to promote a product, I was relieved that it was Ryza. A lot of other products would have had me wanting to bolt from the room, but Ryza happens to be my favourite brand of rice milk. My mother introduced it to me years ago.
Why do I like it?
1. It's made with brown rice.
2. As my mother pointed out, it's the only rice milk on the market without oil as an ingredient.
The idea of sunflower/safflower oil as an additive to rice milk creeps me out.
Ryza comes in two flavours: Original and vanilla. The ingredients of the original: Water, whole grain brown rice, calcium phosphate tribasic, salt, carrageenan, amylase, vitamin A palmitate, zinc gluconate, riboflavin, vitamin D, vitamin B12.
I'm generally not a fan of ingredients that sound science-y, but these are a-ok to me. Calcium phosphate tribasic comes from nature – either bone/bone ash or rock. Carrageenan (a thickener) comes from seaweed.
In theory I prefer to make my own nondairy milks. In practice I buy my nondairy milk because of how quickly the home made stuff spoils. [2016 update: That's changed.]
Listen up, class
Greens+ & More: An Afternoon With Genuine Health
What's the first thing you put into your body each day?
Is it coffee? Tea? lemon water? regular water? juice? a smoothie? or maybe a different green drink? Do you like to drink your greens? What's your experience with greens drinks?
I'm genuinely interested (feel free to comment below). And I needed an opener so that what comes next doesn't appear out of context separate from the rest of this piece.
It's Not Easy Being Green
My mother brought home a new greens powder to try, a product called Greens+. Standing in the kitchen, she mixed it with water, tasted it, grimaced, handed it to me, I tasted it, I grimaced. We agreed that it tastes the way fish food smells. We refused to drink it again.
I don’t remember if she returned it, but it was more than 20 years ago.
Winter recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal was originally published to my other blog, Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on February 27, 2014. This is one of my favourite posts ever from that site.
An update: I've recently discovered Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats. They are ready in under 10 minutes, stove top. I found them at Costco when they were being sampled. Online you can buy them at well.ca.
So, you can choose overnight (steel cut) oatmeal, which smells delicious in the morning but requires planning, or the quick cooking steel cut oats, which cook while you shower.
Several years ago I went through a phase during which I’d make steel cut oats in my slow cooker once a week using Alton Brown’s Overnight Oatmeal recipe as a guideline (rather than a strict instruction) and portioning it out to make 4 servings last for 5 work days.
Recently I started making it again but with a half recipe each day for the two of us so that it’s fresh each day. Throwing the ingredients in the slow cooker before bed takes less time and motivation than whipping something up in the morning when I’m trying to get out the door. The smell of the cooked oats in the morning will get you out of bed.
I use a variety of add-ins. They include goji berries and other dried fruit, hemp seeds, flaked coconut, chia seeds, ground cinnamon (almost always those last two), sunflower lecithin granules and vanilla powder. I’ve added canned pumpkin. Sometimes I add yogurt when I portion it out.