Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter Foods

It is [almost] winter on the west coast and typically rainy and blustery today. I am glad to be at my desk and not outside in the elements. Our harvest days are nearly done for the year, and we are grateful for a bountiful yield from the garden. There is something incredibly gratifying about eating a meal grown largely on-site.

Bruschetta made with baguette of red fife wheat, topped with local goat cheese, a slice of our wicked pickled garlic, and our own tomatoes chopped fine.

Phyllo squash pie, using two kinds of squash, eggs from our neighbor, and parmesan cheese from Italy because sometimes you just have to.

Oven roasted potatoes, Yukon gold and Russian blue varieties. Kale and collards sauteed with minced ginger and tamari. Green salad with three kinds of lettuce, chrysanthemum leaves, and parsley.

And why am I telling you this, apart from to make your mouth water?

Because, if you are interested in health, if you are interested in healing, then you are interested in food. Good food, locally sourced, sustainably grown, and prepared and eaten with pleasure is a foundation stone of good health.

Although my husband Thierry and I grow medicinal herbs on our 7-acre farm as well, we feel that we derive most of our own healing from eating healthy food. But fear not! You don’t have to cook a fancy 3-course meal to eat a healthier diet. Try these simple, time saving diet tips to increase your nutrition quotient:

• Cook a big pan of beans once a week and freeze in plastic tubs.
• Keep a selection of interesting sauces, dips, mustards, and marinades. Any simple piece of fish or chicken can be quickly marinaded, then either oven baked or seared on the barbecue.
• Buy a stacking dehydrator, then when fruits and tomatoes are cheap you can but a lot and dry them.
• Always aim for having five colors on your plate.
• Try a new food every time you go shopping—something you have never had before. Or commit to cooking one new dish per week.

Chanchal Cabrera, MSc, MNIMH, AHG, is the faculty chair in Botanical Medicine at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster. For information about internships with Chanchal, visit, click on Alumni, and scroll down to Mentoring and Apprenticeships for Herbalists.

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