It is the beginning of a new year and many of us are committing to healthy habits that contribute to an active lifestyle here in the Cowichan Valley. One healthy habit that is easily attainable is incorporating one plant-focused meal per week this January.
Here are just a few reasons that you might choose to introduce more plant foods into your diet this year:
-Increasing the amount of plant based whole foods that you eat will boost the amount of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants in your diet. Choose an array of colourful fruits and vegetables to get the most nutrition from your diet.
-Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are an abundant source of dietary fibre. Sufficient fibre will help keep your digestion in good working order.
-Trying new items and adding a diversity of foods consumed is connected to a healthy gut microbiome. This is essential for a robust immune system, goodbye flu season!
Try adding new varieties of beans, plant based proteins/tofu, seasonal fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, mushrooms, nuts/seeds, fresh & dried herbs, spices, and teas!
Cow-op offers a variety of prepared veggie based meals, plant proteins, seasonal fruits and vegetables, sustainably grown legumes, nuts and seeds and snacks to help get you started! Here are some of our awesome food processors and the delicious products that they are making.
Ulivit Superfoods makes delicious Plant Based Crumbles and Plant Based Bites are available in several different flavours including Shakshuka BrEGGfast Scramble Mushroom Boost, Taco Tuesday, West Coast BBQ and Cowgirl Steak.
Both the Crumbles and the Bites are super easy to cook. Using the instructions on the package, simply add the plant protein and spices from the package to 1.5 cups of hot water, stir and allow it to absorb for three minutes followed by a quick sauté over high heat on the stove top. These Crumbles and Bites are a convenient way to add plant protein to dishes like sandwiches, pastas, tacos, breakfast scrambles and Shepherd’s Pie!
Home Grown Living Foods, based in Lake Cowichan, makes U-Bake Dry Mixes that are gluten free, vegan, and keto friendly and they are very convenient to use!
Choose from U-Bake Chocolate Chip Cookies, Double Chocolate Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Cookies, Pumpkin Chia Bread, Sunflower Chia Bread, Crackers, and Magic Mix- their versatile vegetable based meat replacement. All of the dry mixes are protein packed and nutrient dense with wholesome ingredients of hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, fax, chia seeds, nutritional yeast, and spices. They also make excellent sprouted nuts and trail mixes for a top notch snacking experience!
A&S Microgreen’s freeze dried fruits make excellent snacks, you can add them to a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt. Their variety of nutritionally dense microgreens are always fresh and ready to be added to a sandwich, wrap, or make a salad with their great microgreen blends! Try it with Sharlene’s own dressing recipe below.
Ixim Foods Inc. makes veggie taco night a breeze. Their house-made Tofu Chorizo Taco Filling is made with tofu, lentils, and potatoes marinated in authentic chorizo spices and their Refried Bean Taco Filling is made with black beans, onion, garlic and epazote. Epazote is a delightfully citrusy herb that is popular in Central America and commonly cooked with beans. Ixim fresh salsas, pico de gallo, and corn tortillas are also delicious and packed with so much flavour, you won’t even miss the conventional beef taco filling!.
Chef Dale, owner of Bake My Day has been creating gluten free and vegan specialty items since 2012. This includes frozen and ready to bake fruit turnovers in apple, strawberry rhubarb, black cherry, and blueberry and the very popular vegetable based Samosa Rolls made with potatoes, peas, onion, garlic and curry spices.
All of True Grain Bread’s house-made pastas are made with two simple ingredients, organic BC grown ancient grain semolina flours and water. Choose from Durum Spaghetti, Khorasan Spaghetti, Emmer Fettuccine, Red Fife Fettuccine or Spelt Creste Di Gallo.
There are also many seasonal vegetable based frozen soups available on Cow-op.
Whether you’re craving something hearty and filling or something a little on the lighter side, we have you covered with soups that will warm you up! These soups are packed with nutritious vegetables and flavour and conveniently frozen. Stock up on a few to keep on hand for those times when you would like a quick meal option.
Saigon Subs – Vegan Pho Soup Kit, enjoy the flavours of Vietnamese cooking but with the comfort of home.
Mensch Kitchen & Catering – Chef Dan’s soup creations are super seasonal and often change depending on what produce is available from local farms! Right now you can enjoy Island Beet Borscht, Vegan Lentil Stew, Charred Romanesco Cauliflower Soup, and Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup.
Farm Table Inn – Vegan Lentil Soup and Vegan Mushroom Soup.
Kin Park Youth Urban Farm – Tomato Basil and Ginger made with tomatoes, carrots, garlic and basil grown on the farm.
Now that you have the inspiration to embark on this culinary quest, let’s get started with a few suggested menu ideas!
Ulivit’s Oatloaf and Kale Salad, Recipe by Paul at Ulivit Superfoods
We love the seasonality of this recipe, many of the ingredients are available from local producers and can be found on Cow-op right now.
INGREDIENTS 1 pkg Ulivit Mushroom Boost Crumbles (95g)
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup walnuts, finely ground
½ cup cooked brown lentils
1¼ cups quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons soy free sauce – coconut aminos
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce or ketchup (plus additional for topping)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons parsley
½ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon sage
½ teaspoon rosemary
Preheat oven to 375F
-Soak. Add Ulivit Mushroom Boost Crumbles and spice package to 1.5 cups of hot water. Stir and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.
-Sizzle. Heat 2 tbsp oil on a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add seasoned crumbles and water and cook until the water is absorbed. Set aside in a large bowl.
-Sauté the celery, onion, and garlic until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
-Add the Mushroom Crumbles to the cooked vegetable mixture and remaining ingredients. Stir and combine well.
-Spoon mixture into a parchment lined loaf pan. Top with a layer of BBQ sauce.
-Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Slice loaf and serve with a seasonal kale salad and Yeshi Smokey Chipotle dressing.
Chef’s Notes: This Oatloaf is wonderful the next day pan-fried and served on whole grain bread with mustard, pickles, and ketchup.
Home Grown Living Foods Veggie Burgers and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Recipe by Shani Cranston
Preheat oven to 350 °F
Cube 4-5 medium potatoes into 1” pieces and place into a mixing bowl.
Coat potatoes with your favourite cooking oil.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and rosemary.
Transfer potatoes to a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake approximately 25 minutes until potatoes are golden and tender.
Home Grown Living Foods Veggie Patties:
1 cup of Home Grown Living Foods Magic Mix
1 cup of grated vegetables ~ we like carrots, zucchini & cauliflower or purple cabbage
½ cup of water
Preheat oven to 350 °F
Combine all ingredients and let sit for a moment to bind.
Scoop mixture, shape and press onto greased or parchment lined sheet.
Bake 35-40 minutes
Serve veggie burgers with your favourite buns and fresh toppings such as sliced tomatoes, onions and lettuce.
Bake My Day Veggie Samosas and Wonder Mix Microgreen Salad
Preheat oven and bake Samosa Rolls according to instructions on the package.
While the Samosa Rolls are baking, prepare a simple Wonder Mix Microgreen salad with the following salad dressing recipe that Sharlene enjoys with their A&S Microgreens:
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon
1/8 c. Balsamic vinegar
1 c. Extra virgin olive oil
Blend ingredients together, serve, and enjoy!
Sharlene G. Ionescu
A&S Microgreens/Freeze-Dried Snacks
Spelt Creste Di Gallo Pasta with Kin Park Garlic Scape Pesto
Yields 3 servings
One package of True Grain Bread Spelt Creste Di Gallo pasta, prepared according to instructions on the package.
Drain pasta and mix in Garlic Scape Pesto from Kin Park Youth Urban Farm.
Garnish with your favourite fresh herbs.
Cow-op’s online market makes it easier than ever to access super local ingredients needed for these delightful culinary creations.
Shop Cow-op.ca for great products and Cowichan grown produce and have it conveniently delivered right to your door!