How To Eat Local: Winter Edition

Food that is more available to the seasonal climates of Northern America & Canada (where I live) during the winter is limited. Globalization and trade allow us to enjoy most fruits and vegetables year round, although you've probably noticed you can taste the difference when a particular fruit has been picked pre-ripening, and has travelled almost a week before it's eaten. 

I'm hoping to make this a seasonal series to encourage and inspire seasonal and local eating - so let's start with winter! We're almost through it here in the temperate regions of North America. Winter eating means keeping warm, eating hearty cooked meals for the most part - with a salad thrown in here and there. To me winter means introspection too. I'm not too obliged to go outside as often, and thus I think it's a very grounding time for me. Fitting that most of the vegetables grown in this region during the winter are found hidden in the soil - potatoes, onion, leeks, etc. Buried deep hiding, just like me.

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Warming Foods

According to traditional Chinese medicine, foods - specifically plants - contain energies that correspond to one's yin and yang. Yin/yang represent balance so that too much of either throws one into imbalance. Yin refers to cold, or cooling foods. Intuitive eating suggests that we naturally gravitate towards warming foods in cooling months or when our yin is dominant, and vice versa.

Examples of yin (cooling) foods include: cucumber, celery, lettuce, and peppermint, while examples of yang (warming) foods include: onion, leeks, peppers, pomegranates and cinnamon.  

 

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Why eat seasonal though?

  1. Food is more flavourful and nutritious when it's seasonal in your area. It can be picked when it's ripe instead of travel-ripened (when produce is picked before it ripens and pseudo-ripened as it's shipped to another location). Sun and soil ripened produce contains more vitamins and minerals, especially when it's eaten within a short period of time after being picked. 

     
  2. Eating locally is more cost effective. Consider the abundance of fresh seasonal produce from a local farm. The produce is only good for so long, and thus is priced lower to be bought sooner. Often, local farms will sell batches of produce for lower prices. It's perfect for families!
    * This is one of my new year intentions: to acquaint myself more with the local farms in our area!

     
  3. Seeking local and seasonal food acquaints us with the food that nourishes our bodies. It gives us the opportunity to cook more, experiment, and keep profits in our community. Buying from farmers markets or directly from local farmers also allows us to know exactly where our food comes from.

 

So, without further ado, here are some of my favourite warming winter recipes:

 

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THE BEST Sweet Potato Hash

Ingredients:
1 small sweet potato/ half large sweet potato
2 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1-2 cups washed kale
Optional: organic/ vegan sausage, tofu, bacon, etc.

Directions:
Heat a skillet with extra virgin coconut oil, add diced sweet potato & let cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring often. Half way through the cooking time of the potatoes, add garlic & onion. 

If you choose to add meat/ vegan alternative, cook in a separate skillet and add when the mixture is nearly cooked.

When the sweet potato is bright, and a fork can easily penetrate through, add kale and cook covered for 2-3 minutes. Season with fresh herbs, salt and pepper & serve!


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Red Beet Egg Nests

Ingredients:
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup onion
2 small beets/ 1 large beet
2 eggs
Rosemary, salt, pepper & hemp hearts to garnish

Directions:
Wash & spiralize 2 smaller beets or 1 large beet. I have a hand spiralizer, which is harder to use with smaller foods, but experiment to see what works best for you. Heat a skillet with extra virgin coconut oil, 1 minced garlic clove and the onion. After a minute of sizzling, add the spiralized beets to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Cover, stirring occasionally for around 10 minutes.

When beets are nearly cooked (will be soft in texture, but not too soft), add fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Position beets into two "nests", with a hole in the middle of each nest for one cracked egg. Let eggs cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes for soft eggs. Use a spatula to transfer to a plate, & garnish with more rosemary, pepper and hemp hearts!


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SWEET Potato Mango Smoothie

Ingredients:
1/2 frozen banana
1/3 cup steamed then frozen sweet potato
1/3 cup frozen mango
1 cup coconut milk
heaping spoonful greek yoghurt
1 tbsp chia seeds


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Bone Broth

Benefits:

Bone broth is simply a broth made from animal bones, vegetables & spices. It's become popular due to its high protein and mineral content.

1 cup of bone broth contains anywhere from 6-12 grams of protein, and is a complete source of essential amino acids, as well as many bone minerals which can be beneficial to arthritis, osteoporosis and muscle recovery.

Remember to use organic + grass fed bones for the maximum health benefits. Not only does grass fed/organic meat contain no antibiotics/hormones/nitrates etc, but there is evidence that there is more nutrition in both the meat and carcass. 

This is my favourite video on how to make bone broth in a slow cooker!


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Roasted Rainbow Beet Salad

Dressing: 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt + ditto for fresh ground pepper
Mix in a mason jar & shake up before using!

Method:
On a baking sheet, toss an even layer of cubed beets coated with 1 tbsp olive oil and whichever fresh herbs you'd like. I used fresh rosemary and oregano. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for another 5-7.

Top onto mixed greens & don't forget to add some protein, such as hemp hearts, nuts/seeds, or fish!


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Simple 10 Minute Pepper Wraps

Ingredients:
2 tsp extra virgin Silkeny coconut oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 cooking onion, diced
1 large pepper, diced
1/4 cup black beans
Fresh salsa
Silver Hills sprouted whole grain wraps
Optional: rice, meat/tofu, avocado, green onion, pea shoots + mixed greens
 

Directions:

In a skillet, heat coconut oil, garlic and onion. Stir for 1-2 minutes before adding the pepper. Cook on medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, then add black beans and 1-2 tbsp of fresh salsa and cook for 2-3 more minutes until everything is mixed together. 

To assemble, I added mixed greens onto a Silver Hills sprouted grain wrap, then the skillet mixture, then pea shoots, avocado, and sliced green onion. Another option would be to add brown rice/quinoa, or grilled chicken/tofu for a full, more calorie dense meal.

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