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Whip Up these Wonderful Gluten-Free Cashew Cookies Today

written & photographed by Jane Grueber

To finish off September is Eat More Plant-Based Foods Month, here is a simple recipe for delicious cashew cookies. These can be whipped up in no time flat and ready for the cookie jar, a potluck or as a gift for someone special.

Recipe

2 cups raw cashews

1 cup rolled oats (gluten free)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Small jar of unsweetened jam

How To

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Grind the raw cashews and rolled oats together in a food processor for a few minutes.
  3. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except the jam.
  4. Mix all the ingredients together.
  5. Form 24 round balls and place on a parchment paper lined or lightly oiled cookie sheet.
  6. With your thumb, form a small well in the center of each ball.
  7. Place a small amount of jam in each well.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.
  9. Allow cookies to cool before removing them from the cookie sheet.
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Roast your Squash with this Easy, Seasonal Recipe from Carolyn Herriot

Carolyn Herriot, Author of The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for Delicious Home Grown Food, has been a generous and consistent contributor to Recipes of My Home. She lives and farms about a 10 minute drive from where we live on Vancouver Island. We met this past June at her IncrEdibles! Farm Stand and I ended up interviewing Carolyn for my blog.

Carolyn so kindly shared this recipe from her book for Squash & Potato Roast. This recipe couldn’t be any easier or more delicious.  As I am thinking about what to ‘throw’ together for our  Canadian Thanksgiving family dinner, I know this recipe will make the cut.

From her Farm in Yellow Point, Carolyn writes:

‘Tis the season for squash and I love veggie roasts as they are so fast to throw together and are so tasty.

It’s great to have leftovers too. Here’s one delicious variation.

SQUASH & POTATO ROAST

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Recipe

2 apples, quartered and cored (can also use quince)
10 small potatoes
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes (or any other orange fleshed squash)
½ cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
Sprig of rosemary, needles only
1 tsp. (5 mL) dried sage
1 tsp. (5 mL) coarse salt
1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh ground pepper
Drizzle of grapeseed oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of maple syrup

How To

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
2.Toss all the ingredients together in a baking pan and roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.

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Carolyn Herriot is author of The Zero-Mile Diet and The Zero-Mile Diet Cookbook. Available at your local bookstore. She grows IncrEdibles! in Yellow Point on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

www.incredibles.vision

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Bringing the Community Together Over Local Food, Pop-Up Restaurant Style

You have no doubt heard of pop up shops where celebrities and designers alike sell their wares. Well, say hello to the future – a pop up restaurant called In Cahoots -the revolutionary brain child of two Victoria Chefs.  Their philosophy: be sustainable & keep it local.

I met two of the three members of In Cahoots at the Feast of Fields at the end of August.

Chefs Andrew and Margo along with Marketing Director, Madison, joined forces and their many years of culinary experience several months ago to create In Cahoots. This unique concept came from a desire to take food back to the basics – family style meals with fresh, local food.

The tomatoes come from a farm just a couple of minutes down the road. They are still warm from the sunshine when the farmer brings them in. ~ Chef Andrew, In Cahoots

In Cahoots takes over a restaurant kitchen for one night, hand picks the local produce and cooks up a proper meal. But it doesn’t stop there. Not only do dinner guests get to sample the best of what the region offers, they actually bring in the local growers/producers for the dinner.  They give guests a glimpse into where their supper came from, how it was grown and they get to taste it, too.

Green Plants Field

Their mission is to foster a conversation and make their meals a shared experience for the producers and the consumers – bringing the community together over food and bridging the gap between farm and plate.

In Cahoots is putting the focus on simplicity and reminding us that real food comes from a real place grown by real people.

With an ever growing number of consumers looking for healthy dining alternatives that are economically and environmentally viable, the pop up restaurant could be the answer and a way of the future. The flexibility of a pop up restaurant may  just make it easier to be part of a sustainable food system. Pop up style restaurants that flow seasonally available food from farm to table aren’t anywhere to be found in Victoria or on Vancouver Island. With all this amazing food that grows just minutes away, chefs can let their imaginations run wild.

So far, In Cahoots has put on four dinners. Their Signature Series III Dinner is on Thursday, October 13 from 6:30 to 9:30. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased here.

 On the Menu

Smoked Potato Soup with Rosemary Oil & Crispy Leaks

Roasted Beets, Shaved Fennel, Bright Green Farms Baby Greens & Pickled Kabocha Squash with Dill Creme Fresh

Herb Roasted Chicken with Schmaltz Croutons & Crispy Root Vegetables with Thyme Brown Butter

Pumpkin Tart Tatin with Salted Caramel

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Plant-based Diet? 7 Foods to Start Eating More of Today

Processed foods that are filled with refined sugar, excess sodium and unhealthy fats place us all at risk for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Poor nutrition is one of the things we can change right away to prevent the development and severity of chronic diseases.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic states the following in their position paper on Vegetarian or Plant-Based diets:

“Vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits  in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases… Well-planned  vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, and for athletes.”

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7 Plant-Based Foods to Start Eating More of Today

A well-balanced plant-based diet is composed of:

  1. vegetables – filled with fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, and vitamins C and A (almost all of these nutrients run low in the North American population)
  2. fruits
  3. whole-grains – adding whole grains to a meal helps with feeling full, energy
  4. legumes – are an excellent source of lysine, fiber, calcium, iron  zinc, and selenium (consume one to one-and-a-half cups of legumes per day)
  5. herbs
  6. spices
  7. nuts and seeds (small amount) – contain essential fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, and plant sterols, and have been shown to promote cardiovascular health, protect against type 2 diabetes and obesity, macular degeneration, and cholelithiasis. 1 to 2 oz of of nuts per day is recommended.

Pasta penne with tomato and rucola

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Bayer gives Monsanto an Irresistable Offer: The Little Merger of two Giants

This deal has been in the works for some time. Now the major obstacle these two companies are facing come from regulators around the world. Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical company who also happens to be a huge agricultural pesticide producer, and Monsanto, a North American chemical/pesticide/fertilizer/seed company have reached a deal that would consolidate these two giants. What is this combination of the two giants about? So far, Bayer representative are meeting with regulators to explain their vision for the future. How will the regulators in countries that ban GMOs deal with this merger?

Read the full Wall Street Journal Article Bayer-Monsanto Deal Would Forge New Agricultural Force

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Gluten Free Cake in a Cup Recipe – Ready to Eat in Two Minutes

 

Here’s one for the busy people out there and a must have for your recipe arsenal. Not only is it delicious, it doesn’t compromise on healthy.

This lovely cake in a cup is quick and easy. It is one serving size and always tastes like more.

Prepackage the dry ingredients and make it when the moment strikes, between homeschooling lessons (you can even do it as a lesson) or whip it up at coffee break – crack an egg, add some liquid, chuck it in the microwave for two minutes and voila.

Dessert in a cup that is done after two minutes is a huge hit in my books. Baking a cake is (these days) an annoyance and I don’t want to be stuffing my face with cake all day, which is precisely what I would do. So this lovely, small portioned taste of heaven is the right fit.

My young children easily whipped up the ingredients and loved the idea of having a cake in a cup.

Kudos to The Iron You blog for developing this paleo dessert.

The original recipe calls for coconut oil or coconut butter. Personally, I skip this ingredient and save the coconut oil for grilling vegetables. I find the cake is more dense and just as moist without the extra oil. It also calls for coconut flour but any gluten free flour you have around will basically do the trick.

I use Cloud 9 gluten free flour mix (sold at Costco). The taste of coconut flour is certainly an acquired one so I rarely use it in gluten free baking. You could always just use all purpose flour if you don’t have any dietary , it works great too.

Now, go forth and push that 2 minute microwave button.

Let them eat cake!

Recipe

2 tablespoons of coconut flour (or Cloud 9 mix)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

pinch of fine grain sea salt

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of cardamom

1/2 teaspoon of baking power (add the baking powder last)

1 egg

2 tablespoons of milk (almond, coconut)

1  1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How To

1. Mix all ingredients in coffee cup, adding the baking powder last.

2. Microwave for 2 minutes.

3. Pour maple syrup on top and sprinkle with hemp and chia seeds.

The original recipe includes icing. I enjoy the maple syrup, nuts, seeds and even some melted dark chocolate shavings on top.  Make it your own.

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Buying Certified Organic – What You Need to Know

written by Jane Grueber

Sustainable agriculture is often associated with organic practices and local/regional food production. Organic food is in high demand. The aversion to GMOs, consumer perception that organic foods are healthier, more nutritious and better for the environment as well as a shift toward disease prevention have been big drivers behind the increasing demand for organically produced foods.

Why buy organic food and what does it really mean when we buy organic certified?

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In 2015, fifty-eight percent of Canadians bought organic products every week and sales of organic foods and beverages grew from $2 billion in 2008 to nearly $3 billion in 2012, according to the Canadian Organic Value Chain Roundtable, a coalition of government and industry representatives from the organic sector.

In 2006, US consumers spent around $15 billion on organic products and $40 billion in 2015, according to the Organic Trade Association.

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What does ‘organic’ mean?

Organic agriculture is:

“A set of production practices that rely on minimal use of off-farm inputs and aims to restore, maintain or enhance the ecological systems that can benefit agriculture.” (1) 

In Canada, there are strict organic production systems standards that have been in place since in 1999.

‘Organic farming’ has been around since the 1950s with significant growth occurring in the 1970s.

At that time, McGill University set up the Ecological Agriculture Projects, which later became the foundation of organic farming standards in Canada.

Certification bodies were set up in the 1980’s and government became more involved in research and development in the organic farming industry.

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In the US, organic practices that are required and practices that are prohibited in organic agriculture have been legislated since 2001. The USDA National Organic Program began regulating organic production and marketing in 2002.

Farmers who grow/raise Organic Certified crops/animals must do the following:

  1. rotate crops
  2. keep records and must meet certification criteria each year
  3. minimize off-farm inputs (e.g., diesel, fertilizer, purchased feed, hormones, antibiotics)
  4. refrain from using synthetic fertilizers or pesticide, (and land has been free of these for at least three years) and
  5. refrain from using GMOs (however, just because something is grown organically does not necessarily mean it is non-GMO)

Organic Processors have a responsibility to keep organic products separate from conventional agricultural products throughout the processing, packaging and shipping process.

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Anyone can use these practices in their garden or field, but for products to be labelled and sold as organic, they must be certified by an independent third-party certifier.

Here are some good resources & reads on this topic:

Canadian Organic Standards

Organic Federation of Canada

Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada

US Organic Standards

National Organic Program (US)

Sustainable Table – Organic Agriculture (US)

Is organic agriculture sustainable? Many say yes. Some say that it does little to address the economic and social equity.

Many organic operations have thus far been smaller scale, family run farms but as organic becomes more mainstream, some are concerned that what was once local and small scale (sustainable) may move into more the conventional industrialized agricultural system (less sustainable).

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Get Your Greens On with this Delicious Broccoli Soup Recipe

written and photographed by Jane Grueber

After reading some heavy articles about plant-based eating and its benefits, I am opting for a bit of a lighter read: Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life by Karen Karbo. I first read this book about 6 years ago and I think it would be a great book club read whether you’re a foodie or not! I remember getting THE Julia Child cookbook around that time too, but frankly I found the recipes cumbersome despite her efforts to demystify French Cuisine for the home chef.

In Rules, Julia comes off as a tour de force and a renegade of her time. She didn’t take any flack but did it in a kind way. I suppose she knew the old adage, “A soft answer turneth away wrath“. The first chapter of the book is titled, “Live with Abandon” and it’s vodka and martinis all around as Julia drives across America with her gentleman friend, Paul Child. And that’s just a summary of the first paragraph. It only gets better from there.

I love traditional French cooking, especially the different techniques, sauces and soups, so I want to go a little French here.

Here is my take on a recipe for a delicious and subtle Broccoli-Almond Soup from an old French Cuisine cookbook. It was written by a French woman for an American audience. I found at the library a long time ago and, unfortunately, I don’t remember her name or the name of her book.

This soup has become one of our family favorites. I love it because it takes very little time, has very few ingredients (if you don’t have them all on hand, no problem) and the results are healthful and delicious. The coriander adds a subtle, warming flavor to this soup so it is worth having some on hand.

I often leave the almonds out and substitute coconut cream for the sour cream. I also add some nutritional yeast just before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Recipe

1 lbs of broccoli, large stalks peeled and cut into small pieces

4 tsps of butter or olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 oz of blanched almonds, toasted

2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

pinch of coriander

salt to taste

white pepper to taste

sour cream to serve

broccoli florets to serve

1. Steam the broccoli until it is completely tender.

2. Reserve florets for decoration (if you want to)

3. Melt the butter in a large Dutch Oven type pot on medium heat and saute onion until golden brown.

4. Combine the broccoli, onion, almonds and a cup or so of chicken stock in a blender and puree until completely smooth.

5. Return the pureed mixture to the Dutch Oven and stir in the remaining chicken stock, coriander, salt, pepper and heat until hot, adding a little more water/chicken stock if soup is too thick.

6. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and broccoli florets.

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Agricultural Sustainability?

written by Jane Grueber

All this talk of sustainability, food security, policy making and consumer demand piqued my interest. Where is this all going? What does it mean for the environment, farmers, farm workers, food processors, retailers and, of course, consumers?

My conversation with Carolyn Herriot, Author of The Zero-Mile Diet, got me thinking and reading about the functional definition of sustainable agriculture; the current and future states. What does the consumer currently know and need to know about sustainable agriculture practices and policies as well as the overall impact those have on what we eat?

Here are some good reads on this topic:

  1. UNCTAD: Wake Up Before It Is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate
  2. Ecological Agricultural Projects, McGill University, Canada
  3. Sustainable Agriculture: Definitions and Terms, USDA

As a consumer, I want a better grasp of the broader food systems involved in “sustainability”. One thing that stands out immediately is that the concept of “sustainable agriculture” is a continually evolving and moving target.

Researchers at UCDavis published an informative article about this topic. They identified ideas, practices and policies that embody their concept of sustainable agriculture in order to “clarify the research agenda and to suggest practical steps that may be appropriate for moving toward sustainable agriculture.”

They note that since World War II, there have been many changes in agriculture:

“Food and fiber productivity soared due to new technologies, mechanization, increased chemical use, specialization and government polices that favored maximizing production.”

“There were many positive outcomes and reduced risks in farming, there have also been significant negative consequences including the erosion and depletion of topsoil, groundwater contamination, the decline of family farms, continued neglect of the living and working conditions for farm laborers, increasing costs of production, and the disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities.” (What is sustainable agriculture?, pg. 1-2 )

Over the last few decades, there has been a movement toward more sustainable agriculture and now it is taking traction as public awareness increases and agricultural policies of the past have proven to be detrimental. One only needs to look at the Food Is Free movement that is occurring world wide or at the pilot project Costco is doing to see that there is a shift. Even the food processing companies are taking notice.

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The UCDavis researchers define sustainability as the following:

“Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance.” 

“Sustainable approaches are those that are the least toxic and least energy intensive, and yet maintain productivity and profitability. Preventative strategies and other alternatives should be employed before using chemical inputs from any source.” 

“…reaching toward the goal of sustainable agriculture is the responsibility of all participants in the system, including farmers, laborers, policymakers, researchers, retailers and consumers.”  (What is sustainable agriculture? pg. 3-5)

As I mentioned, sustainable agriculture is a complex and evolving concept (as agricultural practices, technology, and scientific knowledge change and evolve) that interacts with various environmental, economic, social and consumer pressures. Consumers need to know what the agricultural policies are, what goals agriculture is striving for (e.g., sustainability) and then go and give a great big push in the right direction. Nothing will get us closer to sustainable agriculture than a well informed consumer voting loud and clear with the almighty dollar!

 

Free From” Labeling – Just a Thought

Demand for local, organic, fair trade and GMO free food is on the rise. As consumer trend reports for 2016 indicated, ‘free from‘ product labeling and advertising can now be found on store shelves everywhere. For example, gluten-free, antibiotic free, free from high fructose corn syrup, sugar free, etc. The food processing companies have taken notice of this “free from trend” and are dishing out advice on how to ride this wave. So what about produce? Doesn’t it need a ‘free from‘ label, too, at least when it comes to particular agricultural practices? So what exactly should we be asking for in terms of ‘free from’ labeling when it comes to produce?

Here is my suggested Top 10 List of “Must Be Free From” Labels for Produce

  • Free from shipping over thousands of kilometers
  • Free from known toxins
  • Free from genetic engineering of seeds
  • Free from growing in depleted/eroded topsoil
  • Free from ground water contamination
  • Free from cages
  • Free from monoagriculture
  • Free from unfair compensation of farm labourers
  • Free from the disintegration of economic and social conditions in rural communities
  • Free from government policies favoring unsustainable agricultural practices that contribute to further social, environmental and economic problems in the entire food system

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Stop Wasting Food – 7 Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home

written by Jane Grueber
Canada has hit a new record high in food waste. Canadians waste approximately $31 billion on food every year, 47 percent is wasted in the home. In North America, over 30 percent of fruits and vegetables are rejected by supermarkets because they aren’t attractive enough to consumers. This is unfortunate because in Canada, limited access to nutritious and affordable food is linked to poor health outcomes.

What is the primary contributor to so much food waste?

According to Cut Waste, Grow Profit 2014 report, high expectations and demand for high-quality, aesthetically pleasing food are key factors behind the volume of food waste occurring among consumers. Other factors contributing to food waste included low food literacy as well as limited awareness of the economic and environmental impact.

Picture by Ryan McGuire


Food and the Senses

FoodProcessing.com, an e-Magazine for Food & Beverage Manufacturers recently published an article on “The Role of Sensory Properties in Food Development: All of the senses influence what people choose to eat, so how do you stimulate them in new products?”  It reveals some interesting and important information about all the elements food companies consider when developing new ‘products’.

In fact, they have it down to a science:

“Foods must smell fresh or ripe, and have what we recognize as the proper color, size, shape, consistency and opacity. Sound is important, as consumers know foods must maintain a certain level of crunch, bubble, sizzle, pop, snap and crackle, without negatively affecting shelf life or nutritional profile.” 

Industry research studies are carefully designed to pin point what exactly consumers like and at what point they like it more than another similar product. Before a product sees the light of day, food scientists conduct a variety of tests to maximize ‘product acceptance’.

It is our keen senses with high-standards that drive much of our food buying behaviour and food waste. So what happens to the food that doesn’t have just the right snap, pop, crunch, fizz that we are accustomed to having? It goes in the dumpster.

Think outside of the box

Researchers at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute are looking beyond the economic and environmental impact of food waste. They are looking for ways to motivate and equip consumers with strategies so they feel they can reduce food waste in their homes.

Interestingly, preliminary research showed that people with high levels of food literacy or food awareness (people who are on special diets, who have food allergies, etc.) produced less waste in the home. They believe that all consumers can make a huge difference in the amount of food waste by changing some simple things on a daily basis. They recommend the following:

  • Make a list before you go shopping
  • Do smaller, more frequent shopping trips and buy what you need
  • Don’t go shopping when you are hungry (research shows that you buy more than you need)
  • Be an inventory manager at home – check your cupboards & refrigerator – what do you already have and what do you need
  • Be creative and re-purpose left overs
  • Learn more about food storage/get some food storage containers
  • If you have too much food and you know you won’t use it – donate it or cook a meal for a neighbour or friend in need.

This is an informative 4 minute video that summarizes food waste and its global impact.

Law of the Land

France used to waste approximately 7 metric tons of food per year. In early 2016, the French Senate unanimously passed a law that forbids Supermarkets from trashing food approaching its best-before date. Instead, Supermarkets now give that food to charities and food banks. Various charities have estimated that they will be able to give out millions of free meals to people in need.

Consumers, charities and anti-poverty activists lobbied for this law and now hope to influence the EU into adopting similar legislation in EU member states.

How do you reduce food waste in your home? Share your tips and tricks in the comment section below.

More reading on the topic of food waste:

  1. The Food Institute, Univeristy of Guelph, Hunger & Undernutrition Blog: Fighting Food Waste: How to Really Inspire Individuals to Reduce
  2. The Food Institute, University of Guelph, Podcast: The shocking stuff that shows up in our garbage
  3. Second Harvest Food Rescue Second Harvest’s mission is to rescue and deliver fresh, surplus food to feed people experiencing hunger.

~Grow~Share~Thrive~

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Interview with Dr. Theresa Nicassio Author of YUM: plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet

I met Dr. Theresa Nicassio at the Gluten-Free Expo on January 16, 2016 in Vancouver and purchased her book, YUM: plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet. She kindly agreed to do an interview about her book for this blog. Whether you or someone you know live with dietary restrictions, this post will be worth your while.

After reading about the scourge of processed food and its unstoppable creep into the North American diet, Theresa Nicassio’s work is surely an antidote. Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, Yum: plant-based recipes for a gluten-free diet, is representing Canada at the World Cookbook Fair, up against 209 cookbooks from around the world.

Theresa is a self-professed renegade; a visionary in the growing and vibrant food culture movement toward simple, healthful and healing food.  Theresa shares her philosophy, knowledge and personal story in a passionate, positive, inclusive and holistic way. She suffered from debilitating autoimmune challenges for years never suspecting that conventional foods were making her sick. It was her drive to heal and be around for her daughters’ graduations that led to this self-published work of practical art. Theresa summed up YUM as a “book for living your best life”.

Theresa deliberately made the recipes in YUM easy. “The simplicity results in such a deliciousness of flavor.” Simplicity does not preclude the richness and fullness of flavor or the satisfaction of each mouthful.  As a psychologist of 29 years, Theresa is well aware of the consequences of denying that which people desire and the process of lasting behavioral change. She begins the conversation with the psychology of eating, discussing the challenge of living with dietary limitations and the sense of loss that comes with dietary restrictions, particularly when life springs such change upon us.

“While it’s important to know, learning that certain foods disagree with our unique physiology for any reason can be difficult news to accept. Such news challenges us to change our daily ways of living and to alter habits that we typically don’t really want to change. What makes such information even more difficult to receive is that it also involves loss.” (p. 1)

Here are excerpts from our conversation.

What has been the overall response to YUM?

“Our launch was September 19, 2015 and it has been phenomenal. At the book launch itself we had about 500 people in attendance. When I’ve been speaking and going places, what usually happens is people see the book and think, ‘it’s another cookbook’. They know someone who could benefit from it; someone who is vegetarian or has celiac disease and this book would make a great gift for them. After making the purchase and take some time looking at the book and discover what it really has to offer, they come back again and want more books, including one for themselves. I’ve had many people say, “This isn’t just a cookbook. Yes, it has amazing recipes but this is more than a cookbook. It’s a comprehensive resource book. You shouldn’t even call it a cookbook!” That really warms my heart. This is so much more than a cookbook. It’s a psychologically grounded philosophy book where I use food as a metaphor for helping people change how they think about themselves, how they think about the planet, how they think about their bodies, how they think about food, and how they live life in a way that actually helps them to turn their life around in ways that are so much more than about food.”

What inspired you to write this book?

“I want to invite people back to the simplicity of beauty and deliciousness and accepting what is; including people, by caring about what their needs are. People talk to me about the book and say, “I don’t have any dietary restrictions.” And I say, “That’s great, but do you have any people you care about that do have dietary restrictions?”  This book equips you to be a better friend and love and care for people; to let them know they matter and not make them feel like they are a burden. You can create something delicious that everyone can enjoy. That inclusive quality for me takes many forms. I know how much it means for people to feel included and the negative impact of being excluded, whether it’s intentional or not.”

How did you arrive at the title?

“I tossed around several titles. People would just make this sound and say ‘yum’ when they tasted the food. I looked on Amazon to see if there were any books with the title YUM  and there was no cookbook with “YUM” in the title at the time. Basically, the book named itself.”

How did you choose the recipes?

“Test Kitchen feedback demonstrated an incredible excitement about the ultra-simple recipes. So I thought, my youngest daughter was 12 at the time, I’m going to include only the recipes that a 12 year old could make–at  least in principle and was ruthless in this process—while all of the recipes were delicious, only the very easiest ones made the cut. If it was too complicated, it didn’t make the cut. It’s already 368 pages, we are not lacking in content! There were many other amazing (but slightly more challenging) recipes that I’ve decided to save for future books and product development.  Even though it was hard to cut some recipes out, a big part of my reason for doing this is my knowledge of how disconnected children have become from where food comes from and also what we see with the rise of childhood obesity and diabetes. Kids can feel engaged in the process. I wanted this book to help everyone, not just those people who were already into the health food movement. I wanted to make it easy for people, regardless of education or cultural background. I wanted to make it accessible and not scary at all for everyone to live a healthier and more joyful life with greater ease.”

You share a story in the book about having people over for dinner and not having to apologize for what you put on the table. Can you elaborate?

“We invited this friend of ours for a Thanksgiving dinner. He was worried about what to bring and just wasn’t sure what the food would be like. He was all anxious about it. But when started the dinner with delicious food that was so satisfying, he was surprised.  We had a good laugh later when he said halfway through his pasta dish that he didn’t realize that the pasta wasn’t made of wheat (or even grain), but was actually spiralized zucchini! He loved it and everything about it.  We didn’t say anything. He just couldn’t believe it. And the marinara sauce is so outrageous, he of course had a second helping.  The rest of the feast carried on similarly. Though it was a few years ago, he still reminisces about the dinner and the apple dessert we had at the end.”

Carrot Blossom Tea? Tell me how this came about.

“It was actually just an accident. My youngest daughter had really wanted to grow carrots, so she chose some gorgeous, multi-coloured heirloom carrot seeds and planted them. Upon time to harvest, she picked some, but not all of them. The rest of the plants over-wintered—we figured that was the end of that. However, come spring, the plants seemed to revive and grow. To our surprise, these gorgeous, feathery plants grew and grew and grew—some towering above 6 feet high! When they kept growing—-kind of like Jack in the Beanstalk fashion, we decided to watch in wonderment what would happen. What happened next was little blossoms began to form—the funkiest looking buds and blossoms we’d ever seen!  I just kept photographing them at the different stages—feeling like a child in wonderment every step of the way. You can see examples of some of these buds and blossoms featured on page 31, 44, 111, as well as peeking around in the background of some of the other food photos. I love it when people ask what they are. Anyway, one day while watering the garden, I noticed an incredible sweet, yet slightly floral scent. My book editor was over at the time. I cut a blossom and went into the house to research carrot blossoms on the internet to make sure it wasn’t poisonous. It turns out that these blossoms have so many amazing healing properties and it tastes delicious. I made the tea for us and we just sat and drank it in my house, relishing in its delicious uniqueness.”

There is not a single mention of fat or weight loss in the book!?

“You’re absolutely right. I want to help people free themselves from that tyranny because it doesn’t work. When we focus on what we want to move away from, whether it is weight gain or being heavy, sometimes we can temporarily change our behaviors. But first of all, it’s not joyful and second of all, it’s not sustainable. When we can focus on what we want to move toward in our life, what we like, and what we are drawn to, we are more likely to follow through and the change be sustainable. The whole notion of weight loss has turned into an ugly source of shame, and self-loathing and distraction about the source and soul of who we are.  I am so passionate about that. What’s interesting is that this book has now won the World Gourmand Cookbook Award in the category as the “Best Diet Book” for the public in Canada. Now 209 countries are competing for the best cookbook in that category in the world. The winners will be announced at the end of May 2016. I did not choose the category. It’s not a “diet book” like what people would think. It’s not about dieting. It’s about diet; what we eat.  People start eating better, nourishing their bodies. Funnily enough, many have been reporting discovering weight just coming off when they eat recipes from the book. I think this may have to do with how anti-inflammatory, healthy and satisfying the recipes are. And because the book is not about restricting food intake (ironically, even though many who enjoy the book live with “food restrictions”), but about delicious food that is nutrient-dense and overall offers a higher water-density, their bodies are able to not only feel full more readily and be better hydrated, but also more readily absorb the nutrients from the food that they eat. It makes me really happy to witness the joy that readers have been sharing with me about improvements in their health that they have been discovering through their YUM journey.”

Are you going to go to Frankfurt for the World Cookbook Fair ?

“If I win in May, I will.”

What are your top three go-to recipes?

  1.  Creamy sunflower seed sauce although the hoisin sauce is to die for (pg. 318)

  2. Cheesy Baked Broccoli (pg. 150)

  3. Nori Rice Paper Wraps (pg. 217)

I have to also say that the Vanilla-Coconut Ice Cream (p. 275) is another amazing standby that everyone goes crazy for.

This is such a hard question!!! There are so many others I could blab on about….but I’ll stop with those four!

Where do you go from here?

“I have been doing a lot of public speaking and media spots—people are hungry for the message I have to offer as an integrative wellness professional who is speaking up about what so many are feeling in their hearts. We are at an amazing crossroads on this planet, and interestingly, our food supply and our lifestyle habits around food have become front and centre. When there are reputable scientific reports that 49-52% of the US population now are diabetic or pre-diabetic (with an alarming increase in childhood diabetes) and we see the trend of an increasing incidence of cancer, neuro-degenerative, and auto-immune problems, something needs to change. I feel called to do what I can to help this effort. In addition, I’ve been approached to manufacture some of the recipes in the book. I’m not yet sure where all of this will go. Many folks have suggested getting to market the Creamy Sunflower Seed Sauce, for example, but there are dozens that could be a hit in the stores—both raw and cooked recipes. Right now my primary focus is getting this book and its message out into people’s hands and getting the word out. It feels like the product development will evolve pretty organically—it just seems the right thing to do, especially for those wanting really healthy gluten- and sugar-free plant-based food, even when they don’t have the time or the kitchen to make it themselves. And I am also focusing on getting some balance back into my life. This book is a totally home-grown job and as such, has been extremely consuming. Not only did I develop the recipes and write the entire book, but I also did all the food and garden styling and photography and have gone on to become the publisher of the book. On top of everything else, we started our own publishing company as well, D&D Publishing. Pretty amazing where this journey that started with my own health crisis has brought me!”

Get Your YUM

You can purchase your own copy of YUM from the official YUM website.

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Chocolate Coconut Beach Balls: Easy, Delicious Holiday Raw Vegan Dessert

written and photographed by Jane Grueber

This is one of my favorite raw vegan desserts – no dairy, no gluten, no refined sugar AND no baking.

I initially made these as a snack to eat at the beach as they are easy to pack, carry and share. My dear friend fell in love with these heavenly balls and has been texting me ever since about how much she enjoys my chocolate balls.  She eats them for breakfast, lunch, snack AND dinner. I do too.

I love these Chocolate Coconut Beach Balls because they are simple to make and made from real foods – nuts, dates, cocoa, coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla.

It all started with a recipe for Almond Joy Protein Balls from iFoodreal.com. Howeer, I can’t eat almonds, don’t use protein powder (either whey or plant-based) or stevia extract. So, I ended up with a soggy mess in my food processor. I figured that I had botched the whole recipe but, being the persistent type,  I added a few ingredients and turned it around.

The end result was a surprisingly soft, buttery, mildly sweet, chocolaty dough – very much like a chocolate truffle that just melts in your mouth.

So whether you like them big or small, take 5 minutes to make them and indulge!


Recipe

Ingredients


1 cup of raw, organic cashews/pecans/Brazil nuts/whatever combo of nuts you prefer

1/4 cup organic cocoa powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp organic coconut oil, melted

5 tbsp real maple syrup

1/2 cup organic coconut milk (canned)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

12-16 organic Medjool dates (no pits)

2 cups of organic unsweetened coconut flakes + more for coating

How To

1. In a food processor, add nuts, cocoa powder, salt and process until a fine powder forms.

2. In a bowl, stir together coconut oil, honey, coconut milk, vanilla and add to the food processor. Process until all blended.

3. Add dates and process on the highest speed.

4. Add coconut a half cup at a time and continue to process until a smooth dough forms. You may need to add more dates and/or more coconut to get it to the right consistency.

5. Place some coconuts flakes on a plate, scoop a ball (the size of your choosing) with a spoon, roll with your hands into a ball and coat in the flakes. You could also put some shredded coconut in a plastic bag and shake it to coat each ball.

6. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm the balls up.

7. Refrigerate in a n airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They taste great both chilled or at room temperature.