I normally don't make New Year's resolutions. It doesn't make any sense to me to set out a list of things...on January 1...that I would like to do differently. I make lists like this all year long. Sometimes they result in changes but most often not.
Valerie at A Canadian Foodie has issued this as a challenge in our ongoing Canadian Food Experience project. I am already doing many of these things but sometimes I get lazy or complacent. Time for a tune-up. Check here for a full list of participants.
14 food goals for 2014:
1. Continue to eat LOCALLY produced foods as much as possible.
As much as possible means that I won't be giving up my sea salt, chocolate or coffee any time soon. It means that I will forego seafood on the prairies. It doesn't taste as good so why bother.
2. Be more aware of the SEAFOOD Watch.
I just said that I would forego seafood on the prairies. However, that doesn't account for eating out and temptations at friends' homes. It does not account for the possibility I might find myself by the sea. Who doesn't find shrimp on menus everywhere and at friend's parties. No more shrimp.
3. Less JUNK food.
Restaurant choices are limited in my town so often I just grab a burger or fried chicken when I am starved and in a hurry. I leaned on this a little too often last year. A clean up is required.
4. SCRATCH cooking.
I am already doing this but I want to be sure to continue. I will continue to promote scratch cooking through my blog and writing.
5. Explore VEGETARIAN and be more creative in my vegetarian choices.
One of my sisters has been vegetarian for 35 years. Even though she has access to a vast array of choices, she still lacks a certain creativity in her meals. Don't we all, vegetarian or not.
6. Expand my GARDEN.
The summer is so busy for me. I am a farmers' market vendor and it consumes my time. Last year my garden suffered. I don't want that to happen again this year.
7. Amp up my NUTRIENT intake.
I am aware of the nutrients in foods but rarely make choices based on their nutritional value. The past couple of winters I have suffered more with colds. It is time to make some changes to improve my immune system.
8. Continue to TEST recipes for local super foods...
... like sea buckthorn and haskap. I have tons of these in my freezer. I make jams and jellies but I don't eat jams and jellies very often. It is time to bring them into my everyday menus that do not include desserts. Einkorn and kamut flour are nutritious and I have not taken the time to work with them.
9. Work on BREAD recipes for the farmers' market.
I like providing new things over the summer.
10. Be CREATIVE with the presentation of food.
I like to think I am but I am also falling into a rut in how I present food. This can be seen in my food photography.
11. Focus on SIMPLICITY in meals and recipes. I think this will be a trend this year.
12. EXPAND my circle of food-centric people.
13. READ books relating to food.
14. SEEK out more wild food. I want to forage for mushrooms and other edible plants indigenous to my area.
My recipes this month will help satisfy Goal #5 - explore vegetarian options. Black rice and amaranth are my two new ingredients. Why would I want to include these two in a vegetarian meal? (Source: Whole Grains Council)
In 2003, researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada found that amaranth can be a rich dietary source of phytosterols, which have cholesterol-lowering properties. Just a few years later, in 2007, Russian researchers drew from the 1996 study to determine whether or not amaranth would also show benefits for patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Patients who presented with coronary heart disease and hypertension not only showed benefits from the inclusion of amaranth in their diets, researchers also saw a significant decrease in the amounts of total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol.
In addition, amaranth is a good source of protein containing the essential amino acid lysine which is absent in other grains. It is also naturally gluten-free.
Black Rice Rivals Blueberries as Antioxidant SourceScientists working with Zhimin Xu at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center have found that black rice (sometimes called “forbidden rice”) contains health-promoting antioxidants called anthocyanins, at levels similar to those found in blueberries and blackberries.
August 26, 2010 presentation at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston MA
Black Rice Bran Protects Against InflammationS.P. Choi and colleagues from Ajou University in Suwon, South Korea tested both black rice bran and brown rice bran for their effectiveness in protecting against skim inflammation. In mouse tests, they found that the black rice bran did suppress dermatitis, but the brown rice bran did not. The scientists suggest that black rice may be a “useful therapeutic agent for the treatment and prevention of diseases associated with chronic inflammation.”
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, August 23, 2010.
Portabello Mushrooms stuffed with 3 Rice Pilaf
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup brown basmati rice
1/2 cup black rice
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Cook rice in separate pots until tender. Drain and combine in large bowl. Saute onion until clear, add almonds and continue to sauté until they are toasted. Add dried cranberries. Stir and add to cooked rice. Toss to mix.
Prepare mushrooms by removing the stem. The stem can be chopped and added to onions when sautéing, if desired. Remove gills of mushroom. Stuff the cap with the rice mixture. Place on baking sheet and bake in 375F oven for approximately 30 minutes or until tender.
Tabouli, a mid-eastern salad usually made with bulgur wheat, makes light, refreshing, warm weather fare. I am using amaranth for a new taste.
1 cup amaranth
1 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tomato, diced
lettuce leaves, whole
Simmer amaranth in 2 cups of salted water for 12-15 minutes. Drain and allow to cool.
Place remaining ingredients except lettuce in a mixing bowl and toss together lightly. Chill for an hour or more to allow flavours to blend.
Wash and dry lettuce leaves and use them to line a salad bowl. Add tabouli and garnish with more diced tomatoes.