Long Days Preparing Rows At McVean Farm

We were out visiting one of our organic farmers Bob Baloch last night, less than 7 kilometers from our Vegquartes! Talk about local. He was working away at his rows. As proof of his long days, you can see the moon coming up over his right shoulder!

Bob's approach to preparing for planting is to disturb the soil and the bacterial life in the soil as little as possible. But he wants to make space for rain water and air, which the bacteria thrive on. So he puts a fork in the ground every foot or so and rocks the handle back and forth no more than a foot either way. If there are large weeds like dandelion or thistle he pulls them out, making sure to get the entire root. When he's done he applies a light top coating of top soil. Once all that's done, he makes a light pass with a garden rake.

The start of the season has been slowed a couple of weeks with all the recent rain. But we are expecting to be packing salad mix in our Wanigans by the end of the month!

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Mango Punch Smoothie

Yikes! Here we are in April and we're hearing freezing rain is in the forecast.

This calls for a tropical escape in a glass and we've got just the thing.  A Mango Punch Smoothie - It's like drinking a beach vacation!

Not only does it taste great it's also healthy for your belly because it contains mango and pineapple -- two fruits that boast natural digestive enzymes. This smoothie is naturally gluten-free, thick, tropical, sweet and satisfying.

Now, think warm summer thoughts and give this recipe a try:

Mango Punch Smoothie

1/2 banana
1/2 cup mango
1 cup fresh cut pineapple
1/2 cup spinach
1 tbsp goji berries
About a 1/4 inch of ginger
Scoop ice
1 cup water

     Blend until smooth.


    Yummy Baked Yam Fries and Avocado Dip

    Happy Spring!

    This week marks the beginning of a new season and while flowers, bees and the warm weather are not quite here, we can breathe in the reality that spring is just around the corner.

    So...what to eat until the local growing season perks up...

    Well, yams were in many of the Wanigan deliveries this week so here is a nice, easy to make recipe for baked yam fries and an avocado dip.

    Bakes Yam Fries

    3 medium yams, peeled and sliced into wedges
    1 medium red or yellow onion, sliced into rings
    1 tbsp maple syrup
    1 tbsp cumin
    1tsp tumeric
    1 tsp cinnamon

    Avocado Dip

    1 ripe avocado
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    3 green onions
    A few sprigs of dill, chopped
    1/2 tsp sea salt
    2 tbsp water

    Slice the yams into thin wedges and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss with maple syrup, spices and spread onto a baking sheet. Scatter 1/2 tsp portions of coconut oil onto yams. Bake at 385 for 40 minutes. Toss after 20 minutes and add onion and bake for the remaining 20 minutes.

    For the dip, place all ingredients in a blender until smooth (easy!)



    Pumpkin Seed Baked Yams

    We've included yams in many of the deliveries this week so our recipe of the week is all about yams.

    Similar to two twice baked potatoes, these Pumpkin Seed Baked Yams are roasted, mashed and stuffed back into their skin for a fun twist on roasted yams, then topped with onions, pumpkin seeds and spices for colour and texture.

    Unlike most twice baked potato recipes, these are vegan and gluten free.

    As we leave winter and slowly make our way into spring, this dish is the perfect healthy comfort food meal to enjoy during the change of seasons.


    3 medium sized yams (the third one is for extra stuffing)
    1 green onion, finely chopped
    1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
    1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
    1/4 tsp sea salt
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 tsp cumin
    Pinch of cinnamon

    Scrub yams and pierce them a few times with a fork. Bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes on a baking sheet until fork tender.

    Once the yams are baked, cut in half lengthwise and allow to cool a bit, then scoop out the filling and place in a small mixing bowl, saving two skins to stuff filling back into.

    To the bowl, add the sea salt, pepper, cumin and mash together with a fork.

    Carefully spoon the filling back into the skins and top with green onion, red onion, pumpkin seeds and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

    Add any other favourite toppings like sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, avocado or quinoa.

    Beet Carrot Salad

    Here's a recipe for a salad using ingredients most of us already have in the kitchen. I keep several mason jars of different seeds and nuts handy at all times for just this sort of thing...and for snacking as I pass through the kitchen.
    Beet Carrot Salad:

    1 large red beet, peeled and grated
    3 carrots, scrubbed and grated
    2 green onions, finely sliced
    1⁄2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
    1⁄2 cup raw walnuts


    2 oranges, peeled and seeded
    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1⁄2 tsp sea salt

    Finely shred beets and carrots, separately in a food processor. 
    Keep them separated until you are ready to serve so the bright red colour of the beets will gradually saturate the carrots. Set aside.
    Blend all dressing ingredients and pour over beets in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss together and gently add carrots and toss again.
    Before serving, sprinkle pumpkin seeds and walnuts on top.

    Makes 2 servings.

    Baked Banana Granola

    Granola is such a great snack food. It's nutritious and crunchy and tasty and all that stuff but what I like most about granola are the endless possibilities. All the different ingredients and combinations. You can make it with honey or without honey, have it dark roasted or light roasted, more seeds, less seeds, with milk, dry out of a jar, at a campsite, in front of the tv, for breakfast or as a snack, it just works however and whenever.

    There is no right and there is no wrong with granola but there is almost always a "good enough"! Making granola is like therapy for curbing your inner perfectionist.

    Here's a yummy granola recipe from Wanigan using ripe bananas and dates to add a little sweetness.

    Baked Banana Granola:

    2 ripe bananas, mashed
    1/2 cup almonds
    1/2 cup dried coconut
    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    1 cup oat flakes
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    3 dates, pitted and chopped
    2 tbsp coconut oil, warmed
    1 tsp sea salt

    In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients adding the banana and coconut oil last.

    On a baking sheet, evenly spread the mixture and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, stirring until the oats are browned.

    Continue baking until the granola is evenly browned and allow to cool. Package in an airtight container like a mason jar and enjoy often.


    Yam Ginger Soup

    Here's a nutritious, warming soup recipe using lots of healthy ingredients.

    I like this recipe because you can just put everything together at once and let it ride on the stove with just the occasional stir and the outcome is a very tasty, wholesome dish.

    One of the habits I've developed in the kitchen is to prepare the ingredients as much as I can before I start the "cooking" part. I separate each ingredient in different dishes or bowls and sometimes even line them up in the sequence that I will use them. Then, before moving on to the cooking part, I'll clean up all the stuff I'm no longer using to give me lots of room.

    I find it keeps me organized, giving me a clutter (stress) free environment to work in.

    It's a simple thing but I enjoy cooking more when I take my time and am not scrambling around piles of dirty dishes and used measuring cups.

    Here's the recipe.

    3 large yams, peeled and cubed
    2 pears, seeded and cubed
    1 red pepper, chopped
    1 stalk of celery, chopped
    2 inches of ginger, grated
    3 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 tbsp turmeric powder
    1 tbsp sea salt
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    5 cups water

    Place all ingredient, except the pear, into a large pot. Simmer until yams are tender, about 20 minutes, adding the pears for the last 5 minutes.

    This recipe works great in a crockpot. Cook on high for 3 - 4 hours until yams are tender, adding the pears in the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

    With a mixer or blender, blend until smooth.