Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cold Weather Cooking

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Well, we've been blessed with warm weather this week, but things can go back to the deep-freeze in a snap - we'll be cooling down this weekend a bit although we're lucky to still be above seasonal.


So what are the best things to cook and eat when the cold weather makes a reappearance?

At the end of February, Mark and I took a Green Bites Cooking Workshop at Evergreen Brickworks - the class was focused on cold-weather cooking. The size was nice and intimate, with 6 participants and a few facilitators.

The class was mostly led by Kate Leinweber, a microbiologist and registered holistic nutritionist (she's also a preserver/lacto-fermenter). I liked her approach because she dislikes recommending dietary exclusions - she believes there is a place for fats, carbs and proteins in our diet and so do I. It's all about that ever-present balancing act - She tries to figure out what her clients are missing and aims to give them a healthy way of getting it.

Mark loved her cold-weather breakfast, which was simply rolled oats, yogurt, and - the key to the flavour - a dash of apple cider vinegar (or, in our case at home, apple balsamic). Believe it or not, apple cider vinegar is high in probiotics which assist in the digestive process. And, of course, yogurt also has probiotics, so you're getting a double-shot of goodness! You can make this a night ahead and just cover it and put it in the fridge. Add some fruit on top if you like.

I didn't mind it, but I've always had this weird on-again off-again relationship with yogurt. I don't know why. Sometimes it just repulses me. I know, it's weird - I've been in the "0ff-again" stage for the last few years. I still ate all of it but I don't crave it for breakfast. My breakfast has been the same for years - a piece of twelve-grain toast with peanut butter, a few berries, and cinnamon. Gotta have some OJ too but I add lemon juice and water to it because a full cup of pure OJ is just full of sugar, so I keep it to about half a cup.

Our other favourite dish we made at the class was a rosemary chicken tagine with some garam masala, potatoes and rutabaga. Not really a traditional Moroccan recipe but boy did it warm you right up, and it was so delicious we made it again this week! It gives you a ton of energy.

I also learned some other fun facts during the class:
  • The most "warming" spices for your body are dried ginger, cinnamon, cloves, basil, rosemary, cumin and coriander.

  • Cilantro helps chelate heavy metals from your body - all you need is about a tablespoon a day to receive the benefits.

  • Grating frozen liver into soups is a great way to get more iron without even knowing it's there!

  • Anything that takes a long time to grow, like root veggies, are naturally warming. It also makes sense to eat what's seasonal - there is a reason root veggies thrive in cold weather - they are there for us to eat and to subsequently thrive as well!

  • It's important to balance anti-microbial foods (like onion, garlic) with probiotics because anti-microbial foods, while they kill the bad bacteria, can also attack the good flora in our gut.

  • Most of our immune system (think it was something like 99%) lives within our large intestine so keep it healthy, people!
Also I'd highly recommend walking a trail to get home from Evergreen Brickworks - we did at about 9:30pm at night - thank goodness we took the one beside the Bayview Extension and thank heavens it was a full moon - otherwise it might have been a tad dark and scary. No idea why it wasn't listed, but where we came out was right at the end of the 75 Sherbourne bus line, which happens to go straight into our neighbourhood and it whisked us home. It's not listed in the "transit" area of Evergreen Brickworks site, unless I missed it -pretty sure it said instead to go to Castle Frank Station. I hope they will add that the 75 Sherbourne bus line is also an option once you reach the top of the trail.

Yours in food,