Every Wednesday, I receive my farm share of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to me from the Wairarapa Eco Farm. I mostly adore all of the seasonal fresh produce however, there always seems to be a surprise or two in the form of uncommon vegetables that require thinking. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with these vegetables and often I let them sit quietly in the bottom of the veggie bin awaiting their fate to turn into liquid goo. But lately, I have decided that I need to work smarter in the kitchen to reduce food waste and so I have challenged myself to use everything in my farm delivery each week.
This week I had a plethora of baby micro carrots, colorful baby turnips, baby leeks, baby parsnips (and a leftover bit of cauliflower from the back of the fridge). Roasting vegetables, to me, is such a kiwi thing. I don’t think I ever had a roast vegetable salad in my life until I moved to Wellington. The roasting brings out the sweet caramel flavors and create such an earthy intense flavor. Whenever I can I like cooking with delicious anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, corriander and cumin not only because I love the flavors but because they are real medicine working to combat inflammation-related disease in my body. Combine these intense spices with fresh herbs and nutty brown rice (quinoa would work nicely too), a little tangy lemon vinaigrette and YES, this will make great lunches for a few days.
I will be sharing my new recipes with you all summer season and hopefully come up with some easy new ways to include all of the uncommon veggies that arrive on my door step. Hope you enjoy this flavorful rice salad!
- 3 Tb Olive oil
- 1 cup Organic Brown Rice (or cauliflower rice or quinoa)
- 6 cups of baby vegetables - this could be carrots, red onions, leeks, parsnips, turnips, cauliflower florets, fennel etc. Larger pieces cut in half lenghthwise.
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves - chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves - chopped
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 fresh red chili sliced
- 1 tsp ground Turmeric
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili or cayenne (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt plus more for seasoning
- 1tsp Honey
- 1 Lemon - juiced
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 180 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Prepare the baby vegetables by washing and slicing any that seem too large. Spread the veggies on the baking tray along with the fresh chili. Add spices and 1tb of oil and toss to coat the veggies with your hands. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer and place the tray in preheated oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until beginning to brown at edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool down.
- Meanwhile add 1 cup brown rice to a saucepan and rinse with several washes of water. Drain and add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp sea salt to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and turn heat down very low. Stir, place a lid on and allow to simmer for 30-40 mins. After this time, remove pot from heat and leave the lid on for another 10 minutes. Next, take the lid off and allow rice to cool.
- Next, in a small bowl, make dressing combining 2 Tbl Olive oil, 1 tsp honey (or more to taste) and juice of one lemon. Wisk to combine with a fork.
- Assemble salad once everything has cooled down a bit. The ingredients do not need to be cold just not hot enough to wilt the fresh herbs. In a serving bowl, add cooked rice, roasted veg, fresh herbs, currants and pumpkin seeds and drizzle dressing over the top. Toss the salad together and add more fresh coriander leaves to the top.
This week I was a guest on Mat Time with Storypark. This being my first video interview, (and also my first official blog post) I was a bit nervous but I sure did have fun hanging out on the Mat with Hilary chatting about the importance of nutrition for children. The clever folks at Wellington based start-up Storypark are creating brilliant ways for parents, teachers and children to create stronger communities. If you have a little one in preschool you may already be familiar with how Storypark connects you to the world of your child while they are at preschool. It’s been really fun to watch Storypark grow along the way.
I am very happy that I could share some information about childhood nutrition to the Storypark community.
My personal interest in nutrition started about 7 years ago because my family was sick. My youngest son was chronically unwell with asthma, mood issues, crippling anxiety, constipation and allergic reactions from everyday life. As a mum, my focus was on getting my son better and as I searched for answers, I also became aware that I could no longer ignore my own health problems. I was suffering from chronic digestive issues but I had begun to think of my constant bathroom trips, “tummy bugs” and painful swollen tummy “normal”. After many doctor and specialist visits we were left with no answers as to why were were sick and we were sent away with a few pills to mask our pain. Deep inside I felt there was a tangible root cause, a scientific explanation for our symptoms that perhaps these doctors were not aware of. I searched for answers, read books, and after an exhaustive search of trial and error, I found a Naturopath who focused on the root cause of our illness. After starting a few basic supplements and making some diet changes my son’s Asthma and constipation resolved. My digestive issues cleared and it was clear to me that what we put into our bodies has a direct relation to our health.
From this experience, I realized that I needed to be more proactive about my health and not just put it in the hands of doctors who are really in the business of disease management, not optimal health. We were still eager to sort out some remaining health issues my son was suffering from and I sought out the help from a well regarded Pediatrician in private practice working in Auckland Dr. Leila Masson. Dr. Masson discovered our son had a rare infection that was causing his symptoms. We started working on making his diet free of common allergens, doing some tests to look at the state of his health and that was we we learned that his gut bacteria was overrun with clostridium difficile and his gut was not working to produce healthy neurotransmitters.
Over the course of our journey, I realized that I have a huge passion for food, nutrition and family health. I went on to receive my training in Holistic Nutrition from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York so that I could work with women who are interested in learning how to use food and nutrition to improve their health and energy and that of their families. That is when The Remedy Project was born!
Here is some more info based on what we discussed during Storypark Mat Time.
Nutrition tips for Families
There is a lot of nutritional information floating around out there and it can really feel like the information often contradicts itself. Most nutritional studies are done in isolation and the media is quick to publish anything that sells news. What is known is that nutrition is hugely important for the health of our body and mind and especially before conception, during pregnancy and in childhood. At these times nutrition is essential for the rapid creation of healthy cells.
Often during pregnancy, women will pay special attention to what they are putting into and onto their body because they are building a new life and want the best possible start for their baby.
As our children are introduced to first foods it is important to train their tastebuds on healthy foods that are free of additives and chemicals as they are especially sensitive to these. There is a growing body of evidence that the chemicals in our everyday environment are upsetting balance of our bodies and contributing to the modern diseases of inflammation (think: Asthma, allergies, mood disorders, eczema).
A simple whole-food formula to keep in mind for meal preparation is this:
- Protein: aged cheese, unsweetened full fat yogurt, unprocessed free range meat, beans, tofu/tempeh
- Fruits and Vegetables: seasonal fruits and vegetables, cooked and raw, a mix of textures and colors.
- Whole Grains: breads are made from processed grain and spike blood sugar. Experiment with whole grains like rice, oats, millet, and quinoa.
Variety is very important in every way as well. Eating what is in season, lots of colors like orange, red and purple, textures, sauces, soups, hot and cold etc.
Children today are big on snacks and often the snack foods they have are very empty in nutrition in the form of processed high glycemic carbs like bread, crackers, cookies and chips and things high in sugar like nut bars, yogurts, biscuits. We are in the habit of having a biscuit for morning and afternoon tea and we just culturally do the same for our kids, training them to continue the habit.
Slowly change family favorite recipes to increase nutrition
- Make small changes and don’t announce it. – gently make small changes that are undetectable.
- Engage kids in thinking that their food is more than just something to put in their mouth. Ask them to guess which part of their meal is good for healthy bones? Can they guess? If a bunny rabbit was at the dinner table, which food would they be excited to eat? Have fun thinking up ways to engage kids in thinking about their food choices.
Tips for teachers
- Read books about farms and growing food. Some are listed on the Storypark Pintrest Board
- Talk about healthy food and where our food comes from. Most children think food comes from the grocery store, but before that, where does it come from?
- Have a “rainbow foods” day where the children all bring in a vegetable and you arrange them by colour and talk about the vitamins and delicious nutrients that help us grow big and strong.
- Have some policies in place for lunch boxes and party food. You could reach out to a local nutrition expert who would be happy to come and run a parent night for your parents explaining why nutrition is important.
- Once a week have a “food detectives” day where you ask each child which items in their lunch box would be good to feed the class guinea pigs, rabbits etc. If a child holds up a packet food, you can ask “do animals eat things in packets?” Should we eat food in packets?
- Grow some vegetables in the school grounds and get the children involved. Easy to grow veg are beetroot and silver beet, lettuce, carrots. You could make a special vegetable soup with what you grow.
- Make sure there are no pesticides used on the school grounds. There are chemical free weed killers made with vinegar, salt and oil you can find online
- Bring green plants into the classroom. The children can be responsible for watering them and the plants also serve to clean the air in the classroom
- Some classrooms talk about germs and bad bugs that spread sickness and good bugs can also be talked about. What are our good bugs? What do they do for our bodies?
- Let children play outside and get dirty. Exposure to soil microbes helps keep the micro-biome healthy and helps develop a healthy immune system
Resources for Parents and Teachers
Free Ebook Nourishing Your Babies Morning Noon and Night
Some good documentary Films to watch with older children: Hungry for Change, That Sugar Film
Children’s Health A to Z for New Zealand Parents (but great for any parent!) by Dr. Leila Masson
Nourishing Traditions Cookbook – a great general whole foods cookbook
Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and their Parents
I am looking forward to sharing more information about healthy gut bugs for children soon. Please let me know if there is something you would like info about!
I should just call these “kale crack” because they are amazingly addictive. My teen begs, yes, begs me to make these and I can not make enough to keep up with demand! What I love about these chips is that they are a healthy, nutrition packed power snack full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that tastes better than any store bought nonsense. Making these seems quite labour intensive at first, however there is really not that much more to it than making a salad and dressing. A very long drawn out salad that takes several hours before you can eat it. Cleaning the dehydrator on the other hand, is a job I try to contract out.
- 1 large bunch of curly kale
- 1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons rice syrup
- 1 tsp chipotle in adobo
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- Soak cashews in water for 2 hours
- Meanwhile, clean kale and strip off tough stalks. Dry kale in a salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture. (If the kale is wet, the chipotle sauce will not coat the leaves.) Keep kale in a large mixing bowl.
- When cashews are ready, strain, rinse and place in the blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend at high speed until really creamy (about 2 minutes).
- Prepare dehydrator trays for easy access.
- Pour chipotle sauce over kale and “massage” to coat in all the little kale nooks and crannies. Lay each piece of kale on dehydrator trays with plenty of space around each piece to properly dry out. Do not overlap kale. Stack trays and turn dehydrator on to “medium” or “setting 2” or 55 C. Kale is ready when fully crisp which takes around 3-4 hours.