Green Beans with Millet and Garlic Scape Pesto

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As we age, I find it becomes easier let go of things that we may not be very good at. For instance, there is no reason for me ever to take another stab at doing my own accounting. I glaze over just thinking about it. And gardening. I always thought I would be a natural at growing my own vegetables, but as it turns out, I’m a lot better at cooking them. It takes a lot of time and attention to grow your own veggies and if you don’t have it, thank goodness for farmers, and the happiest place on earth: the farmers market.

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Eating locally is very en trend, and it feels like a trend that is here to stay. The less time between the produce’s garden-living time and your plate, the more nutrients they will still contain and the better they will taste. A stroll through the market can also be very culinarily inspiring and often enlightening too. Amongst the expected and anticipated favourites, there are always a couple of surprises. The part of the plant you never knew existed, that, yes, of course you would love to try. (more…)

Tomato & Fennel Soup

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When I think of comfort food, I think of tomatoes. I am a quarter Lebanese by blood and about 2/3 Lebanese when it comes to food obsessions. Although we are third generation Canadian, my sisters and I grew up embracing all things tomato, parsley, mint and lemon. For a special treat, my Mom would make stuffed grapevine leaves (we would help roll) baked in a tomato sauce, served with a classic tabouli salad. If it was just the four of us and our Mom for the night, she would often make the very most epic ratatouille with chick peas, finished with a healthy squeeze of lemon and some parsley for dinner. When we were sick, naturally, we got tomato soup.

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Perhaps this is why I gravitate towards tomatoes when planning menus for clients who are unwell. It doesn’t hurt that tomatoes are also one of the richest sources of the antioxidant, lycopene, which is well known for its cancer fighting and preventing abilities. The lycopene is actually more abundant in cooked tomatoes than in raw, so a slow-simmered tomato soup is especially healing.

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Beet Salad with Herbed (Macadamia Nut) Ricotta

I remember a time when beets were scary. They were vac-packed and soggy in the produce section of the grocery store, or sliced up in a can, which rarely equals delicious. Despite their endearing colour (purple, you guys!), they fell flat and tasted like dirt.

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Luckily, sooo much has changed. It is now much easier to get beets that recently grew in the ground, often with their greens still intact, meaning their dirt-living life wasn’t too long ago. It’s natural that their earthy flavour still lingers, but that natural sweetness that comes from a freshly dug-up beet is undeniable, and their texture, both when raw or cooked, is something to celebrate too. Oh yeah, and they’re good for you.

They are full of phytonutrients that vary based on the colour of your beets, so by eating a variety of colours (just like all foods) you will get a broader range. They also boast anti-inflammatory super powers, are full of anti-oxidants and aid in detoxification.

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Buying beets with their greens intact is usually the freshest option. The leafy beet greens and stems deserve a blog post all to themselves, so I’m not going to get too into it here, but keep them and juice them or sauté them with some garlic. They are packed with anti-cancer and they taste good too. For this recipe, for me, it was a little bit too beet on beet to use them as well as the roots, but this way you get two meals out of one veg. Bonus.

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Cherry Season, 3 Ways

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When certain fruits or vegetable come into season, underneath all of the welcome back party feelings, a part of me starts to panic. It’s a bit like when you start worrying about going home on the first day of your vacation. What if I don’t get the chance to take full advantage of it before it leaves us again for another year?!

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(A cherry pitter, although niche, is indispensable for the short cherry-filled weeks. They also work for pitting most olives.)

The summer is full of this strange, delicious seasonal produce anxiety. I find the only way to remedy it is to properly roll around in the local bounty. Eat lots of it as is, while you transform the rest into culinary creations to be appreciated both later that day and later that month, when it has abruptly stopped showing up to the farmers markets.

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