So, it’s mid-August here in St. John’s,
and the choices for fresh local foods are widening. We are in Canadian plant hardiness zone 5a (which is different from the USDA zones) and that basically means these are the kinds of plants that can grow here.
This year was our first summer here, and we planted some red and golden raspberries, blueberries, green onions, chives, mint, sage and curry. The berries should hopefully produce some crop next summer, meanwhile we’ve been using the herbs for the past month. I add our backyard chives or green onions to flavour local wild-caught fresh fish (which is abundant here), as well as tuna/salmon/egg salads, and potato salad. Mint is a great addition for hot or iced teas, lemonade, or even to just to break off and eat as is.
As the weeks have progressed the farmer’s market has more and more vendors. These vendors include local pasture-raised animal products (meats and eggs), and there are a number of stands from all types of farms including organic, sustainable and conventional. And, of course, you can buy ready-made foods, preserves, local crafts, and even watch a bunch of 10 minute live renditions of Shakespear (with the addition of local humour, of course!).
Another place that I recently stumbled upon for local produce is the Botanical Gardens. My older daughter is in their “naturalist” camp for a few weeks this summer and there are baskets filled with produce from their garden for sale. Each item is wrapped with a strand of green twine and costs just $1.00.
Now is also the time to go berry picking. Last week we went out to the coast to visit a touch aquarium and watch some seals, and found an entrance to the East Coast Trail where we picked and ate some wild blueberries. There are a lot of wild berries here in Newfoundland, and the locals know where and when to go and pick them.
You can also find some local produce, spices and herbs in the large-chain grocery stores
Leafy greens are one of those things that seem to be everywhere now. We probably all know that leafy greens are really good for everyone, but we may need some inspiration to eat them (maybe a recipe?). Most people have heard that kale is a “superfood”. Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C & K, and a good source of manganese. It is also a source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and folate, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Kale is also low in sodium and contains no sugar.
Kale is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, which means that it is one of the top 12 fresh fruits/vegetables most contaminated with pesticide residues, and therefore one of the most important ones to buy organic. Don’t let this stop you, because even conventionally grown kale is better for you than no kale at all!
An easy-peasy recipe you can try (and one of mine and my kids’ personal favourites) is kale chips. These are thinner, greener, and more brittle than potato chips, but much better for you. Note that some of the vitamins (vitamin C, folate & some B-vitamins) may be reduced in the baking process, but these chips are still going to be better for you than potato chips, and you can dress them up however you want to (but watch the sodium level if you’re adding salt).
For the oil, I recommend organic virgin unrefined coconut oil which is stable at high temperatures (smoke point is 350F, before it will start degrading). Coconut oil also contains some medium-chain fatty acids, which may help to improve one’s cholesterol profile.
There are a plentiful number of kale chip recipes you can use, but I’ve created this very easy one dressed with sesame seeds which are a source of selenium.
You will need:
- parchment paper to line cookie sheet
- 1 bunch of kale per cookie sheet
- 1 heaping tablespoon of virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, melted (if it’s solid, I place some in a ceramic cup on the stove by the oven vent while the oven is pre-heating)
- kitchen silicone brush (to dab the oil onto the leaves)
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- garlic powder (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Remove kale leaves from stalks (see this video 1:05 – 1:40 for a great demo)
- Rinse leaves & remove excess water.
- Spread leaves out on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Dab melted coconut oil onto the leaves using the brush.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garlic powder (if using).
- Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes until edges start to brown. At about 10 minutes you may want to check on them because they go from lightly brown edges to completely burnt within a minute or so.
- Let cool and eat!
Note that Kale is obviously most healthful as a raw or lightly steamed vegetable, and this recipe will be caloric due to the coconut oil, so eat kale chips instead of potato chips, but don’t overdo these!
Note about spices – In Canada, spices are exempt from requiring a Nutrition Facts table on the label if all of the nutritional information per serving are 0. So, if you don’t see a Nutrition Facts table, as long as the company is compliant with the regulations (and they have not overlooked this requirement), then there should not be any nutrients, including sodium, in one serving of their product. If you so choose, you can contact the manufacturer or look at their website to confirm.