Tag Archive for eat local

Farm Fresh Ratatouille with Polenta {Vegan}

Ask me about my food philosophy, and it’ll be the same answer every time: obviously it needs to be delicious, made with love, mostly plant-based, and ideally, sustainable, local and in season.

You see, what we eat has far-reaching effects, probably more so than we realize. By supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, it’s much better for the environment. Our carbon footprint is reduced when we eat locally-produced stuff, and the truth is, it tastes better, too. Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy bananas (I totally do), but given the choice between a locally-grown cucumber and one grown a continent away, I’ll choose the local one every time.

Cucumbers growing int he greenhouse

Cucumbers being grown in a greenhouse.

Supporting local farmers also supports our local economy. I’m a small business owner, I want to support other small business owners, and hopefully they will support me. More money stays in our local economy, and that’s also a good thing.

BC Greenhouse Vegetables

I really love visiting farms, so I was stoked to get invited to a long table dinner last week that took place inside a working greenhouse where they were growing cucumbers. It was a really cool experience to see how they are able to grow way more cucumbers hydroponically, by growing them vertically instead of on the ground. And it’s not just cucumbers. Other farms are growing eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

BC Greenhouse Longtable Dinner

The dinner was fantastic, and paired with lots of other local ingredients, like cheeses and wine from Mt. Lehman, and local meats as well.

Roasted red pepper bisque Veggie Fritters Lemon curd with rhubarb

We went home with very full bellies, and also a bag of superfresh produce. I decided to turn mine into ratatouille, which is a kind of French peasant stew made of vegetables. You could serve it plain, or as a side, but I like serving mine on a bed of creamy polenta.

It’s such a great spring/summer dish, the perfect thing to make after a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

Hug a farmer, you guys! They work so hard, and without them, our lives would be much less colourful and a whole lot less delicious.

Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille with Polenta

Ingredients for the stew:

  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small yellow or light green zucchini,┬ánot peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled or not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes (small to medium), diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened, unflavoured
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegan butter

Vegan Ratatouille and Polenta

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced the onion, season and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini and stir well to coat with oil (add more if needed). Season. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the garlic and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the peppers and stir well, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir everything well together and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the olives. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Lastly, stir in the fresh herbs just before serving, reserving a few for garnish.
  7. To make the polenta: bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the polenta and the corn flour together, and then add it to the boiling vegetable stock in a a steady, slow stream, whisking all the time.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to whisk until the polenta is a thick, porridge-like consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the vegan butter and the vegan milk. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  9. To serve: pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, EVOO and (if you’re not vegan) a little cheese.

 

Fresh Prep

So, it’s January, and everyone I know is hitting the gym or going sober or participating in Veganuary.

Yes, it’s that time of the year when a young woman’s thoughts turn to making healthier choices. Especially after all the cake and all that mulled wine you drank in December.

You need to make healthier choices around your diet. You need help!

Fresh Prep Sushi Bowls

I feel like we eat pretty healthy at our house. We stick pretty strongly to a vegetarian diet that includes lots of plant-based protein, but also some free-range eggs and cheese. A typical dinner at our house might include stir-fried veg with brown rice and tofu or sietan. We love our carbs, so pasta is usually on the menu once a week or so, usually along with a caesar salad. I pretty much always keep pizzas in the freezer for the weekend, or veggie burgers.

So while we aren’t terrible junk food addicts, and while much of what we eat is whole foods and not from a package, honestly, I feel like I get stuck in a rut sometimes.

Like every week, we eat something similar, just because that’s what we do, and the choices are pretty healthy, and we have it in the cupboard… *sigh*

So, while our goals here at our house are obviously to eat healthy, we are also looking to shake things up a little. To try new things. To get out of our rut.

But not at the expense of spending hours and hours in the kitchen. I mean, we have a life and all (okay, not really, but we do have a new kitten, and playing with her constitutes “our life” right now).

So, we were excited to sign up for a new meal delivery service called Fresh Prep. Now, this isn’t one of those services that delivers you the whole meal. There’s still some assembly required. But basically, the shopping, measuring, and most of the chopping is already done for you. And best of all, the thinking is done for you. You don’t have to decide what to make for dinner, you just have to make it! Ahhh, the freedom!

They allow you to choose what kinds of meals you like; vegetarian, fish and/or meat. It’s a great way to shake up your routine–like, if you’re an omni, maybe try some fish or vegetarian options.

Fresh Prep Delivery via bike

So, I signed up and waited for my first order. They gave me a window, and I was working at home, waiting for them to arrive, when I got a text message my delivery was a few minutes away. You click on the link, and it takes you to a GPS locator that is tracking your delivery. How cool! I expected my delivery to show up in a truck, but instead, it came via bike courier!

fresh prep delivery cooler bag

I love that. I don’t eat meat for the envoirment, I love that my meals were delivered in an enviornmentally sustainable way.

The driver delivered me my cooler bag with my two meals inside, which were packed with ice packs to keep them cold. Into the fridge they went until it was time for dinner.

The idea of the meals is that you can get them on the table in 30 minutes. I cooked one of them live on Facebook, and it took 20 minutes (I did a couple of prep things in advance to save time).

We had a yummy pasta dish baked in a cream sauce with roasted veg on the side and sushi bowls with tofu and lots and lots of veg.

Fresh Prep Pasta ingredients

I loved that most of the prep was already done for me, like slicing onions (no more crying) or mincing garlic. I don’t mind doing these things, they’re just time-consuming. Having the prep work done for you speeds things up.

Fresh Prep Pasta

The service costs about $11 per serving ($44 a week for 2 meals that serve 2), but the meals actually serve more than 2. One night we fed a third person, and the other times, there were always leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

Add to that the fact that you don’t need to shop for the ingredients, and the time you save with prep work. Also, I have lots of weird ingredients in my house, like sesame oil, but I recognize not everyone buys that stuff. And you may only want or use a tablespoon or two, and you don’t need that whole bottle. This is also where a service like Fresh Prep excels.

So, if you’re feeling stuck like me, or you just want to eat healthier, I’d encourage you to give Fresh Prep a try. They even gave me a special code for you. Click here to order, and you’ll get three free plates credited to your new account.

Have you tried a meal prep service? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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