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Flavour Bomb Greens n’ Noodles

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I had my first harvest today. After several months of extremely hard work I cycled out to our garden with a pair of scissors, an empty basket, and some very excited taste buds.

Having zero access to a plot of land for many years now, it’s indescribably gratifying to get my hands down in the earth, plant seeds and watch miracles happen (well, they seem like miracles to me). To be able to bike past the market, just to sit in my strawberry patch, basking in the sweet, sweet glory of a perfectly ripe jewel that I’ve had a hand in growing is nothing short of awesome. Total connection.

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So, what is Sarah B. growing? Well, lots of root veggies, as Danish temperatures lends itself to produce that can hide underground for months on end (who can blame them?), but peas and beans will tolerate the cool and wet weather pretty well. I got some pretty groovy winter squashes in there, a good mix of herbs and edible flowers, and some fruit trees. Most of these treats I’ll have to wait a few more months for, so for the moment my pride and joy are the greens. Greens, greens, everywhere! And pretty ones too, with pink and purple stems.

In honor of the first harvest, I dedicate this post to greens. We could all stand to eat more of them, but they are not always the sexiest, nor the most sought-after veggie on many people’s list. In fact, I find that most folks are downright scared of green things. How the heck did this happen? With a few simple tricks, greens are downright tasty. I’ll show you how.

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Why Green is Gold
Leafy greens are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. The greener they are, the more nutritious and healing they are. Loaded with vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and folic acid (the name derived from the word foliage), greens are also extremely low in calories for the nourishing punch they pack.

Including greens in your diet on a daily basis (it’s okay if that feels overwhelming – baby steps) is your ticket to greater health via their uncompromising ability to improve immune response and prevent disease. Leafy greens are also excellent brain-boosters, blood cleansers and cancer-fighters.

The happy news is greens are fairly abundant all year ‘round. They are very simple to grow (as I have now witnessed), but even if you don’t have a foot of soil to plant in, one can always find a green leaf at the grocery store during any season. And greens are extremely versatile: use them the obvious way like raw salad as I have done here, or add them to a soup or stir-fry (cooking them causes serious shrinkage so they are easy to hide!), blend them into a juice (I find spinach is a winner in this application), or juice them. One of my favorite ways to eat greens is to replace a wrap or piece of bread with a giant leaf and just roll up whatever I am munching on. This was a trick I learned some years ago and it really works – even with kids! The trick is making the flavours really sing until you can groove on the natural “green” taste, which I promise you will learn to love.

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With all these glorious fresh greens ready to enjoy from my garden now, I thought I better come up with a killer way to eat them day after day. I have been craving something with big taste, something with ka-pow! And my totally boss mix of flavours fits the bill for sure.

The cool thing about this meal is the customizing aspect to it, one I would imagine would greatly appeal to children, or anyone unenthused by leafy greens. Once the intoxicatingly vibrant dressing of lime juice, garlic, ginger, chili, tamari and honey wraps itself around each ribbon of green, these once humble leaves become shockingly addictive. Then each person is free to liberally add in their favorites: toasted sesame, cashew, and coconut, more chili, and spring onion, cilantro and mint. Please inform everyone at the table that more is better! Pile on the toppings because they are all super healthy, and along with massive flavour, they bring on major nutritional bonus points.

And if you want to stop at just the greens, by all means do so – I added the noodles for a more filling and complete lunch. Take it to the next level with some marinated, stir-fried tempeh, avocado, sprouts, beans or lentils. The point is, we are making greens taste good and you can do just about anything with that.

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I want to end this post with a huge thank-you to all of you who wrote a comment in the last post, on Facebook or sent an email. I have been so overwhelmed with your unbelievable outpouring of love and excitement for my pregnancy, and it means more than you know. I feel as if I have this giant extended family out there, made up of gorgeous people whom I have never even met, but wow, how I can feel you. And undoubtedly, so can this little sprout.

big love, Sarah B

oh – and because you’ll ask, I buy my seeds from here.

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And don’t forget to check out my recipes in The Guardian, in print and online.

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Stocking the Pantry: To be Published!

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Dear readers,

Whoa! I have such exciting news. Due to the immense response of Stocking the Pantry, the book has just been bought by a major publishing house and will be turned into a hard copy book! I am so sorry to put it online and take it down so quickly, but that is the deal. You’ll be able to hold the real version in your hot little hands just as soon as we can get it out there! Thank you so much for your enthusiasm – you really made this whole thing possible for me.

Thanks for your understanding.

Your friend,
Sarah B.

Blood Orange Braised Cabbage on Barley

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All right, it’s official. I am so over winter. Although I can sense the days getting longer and the sky brightening ever so slightly, I just feel schlumpy. Is that a word? No. But I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down.

When the world is cold and dark, I want comforting foods that stick to my ribs and fill me with warmth. I’ve been on a creamy polenta kick lately, enjoying lots of the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, rich curries, and coconut soup. One ingredient that really epitomizes hearty, winter food for me, is barley. Adding barley to a soup enhances the flavour and adds a rich creaminess to any broth. This is how I was introduced to barley in fact, but recently I’ve been cooking it whole and using it as a base for winter salads with add-ins like roasted veggies, toasted nuts, and even soft-boiled eggs. I find that it is really filling without that being heavy – something that is important to me even on the darkest days.

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Barley comes is commercially available in a few varieties, as hulled whole grains, scotch barley, and pearled, of which most of us are familiar. The process of pearling barley is quite similar to the process used to remove the bran of grains like rice, turning brown rice into white rice. However, barley can be sold lightly pearled or completely pearled, which changes the taste, texture and overall cooking time of the grain. Of course the more pearled the grains of barley are, the less nutritious they are as so many trace elements are contained in the bran which is stripped during this process. It is for this reason that I encourage you to seek out hulled, whole grain barley (sometimes sold as “hulless” or dehulled” barley), scotch barley (in between hulled and pearled) or pearled barley that has only been lightly processed (sold as “lightly pearled” barley – see photo above). Steer clear of medium to fine pearled barley that is very light in colour with little of the brown bran still in tact.

Barley is a fiber superstar. In fact, one cup of barley provides the body with 13.6 grams of fiber – that’s over half of your daily recommended intake (the same amount of brown rice by comparison, contains only 3.5 grams of fiber). Barley is also known for its high selenium content – an essential trace mineral that is lacking in many of our diets. Not only is selenium needed for thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense, and immune function, but there are now clear links between selenium and cancer prevention. Selenium has been shown to stimulate DNA repair in damaged cells, to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, as well as induce apoptosis – our cells’ mechanism for self-destruction when they are abnormal, worn-out, or damaged. [1]

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This dish was inspired by the last of the citrus I found at the market and the realization that I hadn’t yet taken advantage of blood oranges this winter. Blood oranges are one of my favorite fruits. They are sweet like navel or Valencia oranges, but with an unmistakable tang, somewhere between a lemon and a raspberry. Their deep pigment is due to their anthocyanin content, a powerful antioxidant that is also responsible for the colour of cherries, black bean and ah-ha! Red cabbage too. It’s safe to say that this dish is full of fiber and life-giving nutrients, mighty enough to get you through this last stretch of frosty winter days.

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I hope all of you out there in the Northern Hemisphere are still hanging in! We’re close now.

Love and sunshine,
Sarah B

 

Source: [1] whfoods.com