Monday, August 25, 2014

FARMERS MARKET VS GROCERY STORE

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This is a post I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.  How many of you have ever been to your local Farmers Market?  Well, if you haven’t I would highly recommend you do.  We have amazing Farmers Markets in Nova Scotia.  Locally we have Alderney Landing, Halifax Seaport, Hammonds Plains, Musquodoboit, and the Brewery Market.  Outside of the metro area you can find markets in many other towns.  The Wolfville Market is great, Truro has a great one as well.

If you think you won’t be able to find what you’re looking for I’m here to tell you that’s not the case, you’ll find so much more.  Produce, fresh baked goods, free range meats, and jewellery to name a few.  All year round you will find fresh produce but this  time of year it is bursting with a rainbow of colour.

I think there is a misconception that items at the market are more costly than the grocery store.  In my experience they are usually cheaper or the same price.  Even at the same price you’re getting a much better product, grown by local farmers, picked at the ideal time, and everything is fresh usually picked/harvested within a day or two. Produce at the market may or may not be organic but is for the most part (at least in my experience) no spray. 

So I did a little price comparison

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As you can see most things were cheaper at the market and some were the same price but much better quality.  The meat comparisons I did using items from Wild Mountain Farms Meet Up website.  I love their products and they do meetups weekly at different locations, including the Hammonds Plains Market, where you can pick up your order.

You will also find things at the Market you would be hard pressed to find at the grocery store………

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…and you will find lots of things at the grocery store that you will NEVER see at the Farmers Market!!

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Chicken????  I don’t think so!

I challenge you to get out support our local farmers and visit a Farmers Market in your area!

~~ Jackie

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

Here’s a quick and easy idea to satisfy your sweet tooth or give you a little energy boost.  Instead of reaching for another coffee, pop or energy drink try one of these.  If you don’t want take the extra time and add the chocolate they are just as tasty without it.

These little gems contain quite a bit of nutritional goodness.  Fibre, B-vitamins, potassium, Vitamins A, K and magnesium to name a few.  Just remember though they should be enjoyed in moderation as they are a fruit and contain quite a bit of natural sugar in their small little packages.  I usually wait till these chill for a bit in the freezer and then slice them in a few pieces, so you’re not eating a whole one each time.

Chocolate Covered Stuffed Dates

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  • Medjool Dates – pitted
  • Natural almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 70% dark chocolate
  • sea salt

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Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Slice the dates in half being careful not to go all the way through.  You should be able to open them like a book.  Fill with nut butter and close the date.  Dip in the melted chocolate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Put in the freezer till slightly chilled and slice each date.   Return to freezer to store.

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The dates aren’t very photogenic but they make up for it in taste.

~~ Jackie

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Strawberry Jam

I just couldn’t help myself. 

I’ve been on vacation this week, enjoying my time off in the garden and getting some odds and ends done at home.  The weather has been overcast and or rainy all week, but I’m good with that.  I’m not a lover of the heat so this weather works for me, and it makes it easier to deal with the overgrown mess that is the flower beds around here.  The wet ground makes it much easier to pull out those pesky weeds. 

The veggie garden is coming along nicely.  I thought I was going to lose a lot when hurricane Arthur visited a couple weeks ago, but everything survived and has for the most part recovered nicely.  So far I’ve harvested, bok choy, mixed greens, kale, early turnip, radish, and garlic scapes. Still waiting on the tomatoes, cukes, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions, peppers, potatoes and zucchini.  I didn’t want to let those garden spaces sit empty so I just planted some more radish, mixed greens, and peas a couple of days ago for a second harvest, and they have sprouted already.

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One of the the yummy things I wait all year for is our amazing Valley Strawberries.  These little red bundles of deliciousness just can’t be beat.  If only they were around longer. 

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There were a couple of boxes hanging out in the fridge that seemed to be destined for some jam.  Since I can’t make traditional jam to save my life Chia jam is a perfect solution.

Strawberry Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Jam

1 pound fresh strawberries

2 –3 tbsp local honey or maple syrup

2 tbsp chia seeds

1/2  tsp vanilla

squeeze of lemon (optional)

Wash, hull and chop strawberries. I pulse mine in the blender or food processor a few times to speed the process up since strawberries take a little longer to break down than other berries, but you can skip that step if you like.

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Place chopped berries, and sweetener of choice in a pot over medium heat.  Mash with potato masher once they start to heat up (if you didn’t blend first) to get desired consistency. Bring to a boil add chia seeds, turn heat down to a simmer.  Continue to cook for another 5 – 7 minutes,  stirring frequently.  you can cook a little longer if the mixture still seems very liquid.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and squeeze of lemon if using.  While it’s cooling the magical chia seeds will do their job and thicken it nicely.

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Store in fridge to use right away or freeze for later use.

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Enjoy, have a qreat day!

~~ Jackie

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tabouli Inspired Quinoa Salad

 

Summer is finally underway.  Last week was super hot, then Arthur blew in yesterday, and seems to still be hanging around based on the winds outside.  The wind and salt spray were not kind to the garden.  I think I lost most of my peppers and a number of tomato plants.  The chocolate tomatoes seemed to fare the worst.  Time will tell I guess.

Last weekend was my first trip to the Market in a while.  So many yummy things to chose from.  The number one thing on my list was Valley strawberries.  I wait all year for these delicious little berries and they never disappoint.  There really is nothing better.

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Other fresh finds – Beets, carrots, green onions, feta, free range eggs, zucchini, herbs, and sprouts

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Included in the purchases was a huge bunch bouquet of Italian parsley, that was supposed to be destined for Tabouli until I realized I didn’t have any tomatoes.  So I was forced to improvise.

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Tabouli Inspired Quinoa Salad

Amounts are approximate.

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

Shredded purple cabbage, chopped or julienned carrots, diced yellow pepper, chopped green onions

1 1/2 cups chopped parsley (more or less to taste)

juice of 1 very juicy lemon (about 3 tbsp)

xtra large clove of garlic minced or (2-3 small cloves)

EVOO to taste (2 – 3 tbsp)

salt & pepper

RInse quinoa very well, and prepare per package instructions.  Let cool completely.  I always rinse my quinoa well,even though most says it’s already rinsed.  I still find it has a bitter taste if I skip this step.  I also almost always toast it first before adding the water.  Just place in the dry pot over medium – med high heat until slightly toasty.

Whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until well combined.  Add cold quinoa, veggies, and parsley.  Mix well.

There is a lot of healthy goodness in this salad.  Did you know 100 grams of parsley contains more vitamin C than an orange. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin K, A and folate.

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This type of salad is easy to change up, add more or less garlic, more cabbage, less peppers more lemon.  Make it your own, get creative and enjoy!

~~ Jackie