Monday, January 28, 2013

I'd Hack That!

I'm a food hacker. I love to take a dish and find out how I can hack it into healthfulness.  With the myriad of diseases and food "sensitivities" (which sounds so delicate, but we all know what ugly terror these little sensitivities bring) that are plaguing us humans, we've all been forced to get a little creative with our dinners. The other night, I successfully (read: didn't burn it, totally ate it) hacked a Shepherd's Pie - I substituted the ground beef for mushrooms and edamame and changed the mashed potatoes to mashed cauliflower and turnip. It was delicious! I honestly believe you don't have to "miss" anything when you change the way you eat. Any favourite recipe can be hacked. I've included some of my favourite recipes that I've collected from our Pinterest board that offer a different take on a classic dish.

Spinach Burgers 
(or Spurgers, maybe...? No? Come on...)

Let's be honest. I like me a good ol' fashioned burger. I'm pretty sure the folks down at Five Guys Burgers know me by toppings "No onion? Extra mushrooms? Welcome again, my friend."  But there is only so much I can take before the chronic meat sweats kick in. That's why I love these Spurgers. Yes, I will keep using that term until you use it too. 

Spaghetti Squash Boats with Meatballs 
(or "Cheatballs", using Quinoa or Veggie Ground Round)

Where I grew up, there was a stream that ran the length of the street where our home was located. Every spring, when it thawed, my family had the Annual Spaghetti Boat Run. My brother and I would take hollowed out spaghetti squash halves and create our own unique boat, complete with masts and flags, and stick-person crew. Then we would put them in the water and race them to the bottom of the hill.  Winner got bragging rights.  You, too, can get bragging rights by making this dish. 

Oven Baked Zucchini Fries 
(with Heirloom Tomato Ketchup!)

These are AMAZING. They taste kinda buttery, too, and if you add Parmesan cheese, then they taste buttery AND cheesy. You can't lose. If I wanted to be SUPER healthy, I would serve these with my Spurgers. 

Cauliflower & Turnip Mashed Fauxtatoes 
(It sure BEETS the original. That's one for all you veggie lovers out there. I'm here all night.)

I make this all the time. Sometimes, if I'm feeling fancy, I'll add a beet so that they turn this awesome pinky colour which is really attention-getting, especially for a dinner party where you want your friends to be impressed and jealous of your mad kitchen skills. 

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cottage Gardener is now certified as a Bee Friendly Farm!

The Cottage Gardener is now certified as a Bee Friendly Farm!

Why did we decide to take this step? We've always grown organically and encouraged bees and other pollinators to visit our gardens. But we've noticed over the last few years that we are seeing fewer and fewer bees - both honeybees and bumblebees - visiting our crops and gardens. Upon doing a bit of investigation, we've discovered that all pollinators (and there are over 1000 species of pollinators in Canada!) are under serious threat. They're losing their natural habitats and their food sources due to increasing urbanization, industrial farming, monoculture and the increasing reliance on pesticides and herbicides. Bees are responsible for pollinating a large percentage of our food crops, so a loss for the bees is also a dangerous loss for us.

The Bee Friendly Farming initiative is designed to draw attention to the plight of our pollinators and encourage people to provide supportive habitats for bees and other pollinators. It's not difficult - there are many simple steps you can take to make your own garden more bee-friendly. I found it interesting that, for example, single-bloom flowers are better than double-bloomed ones and that bees' favourite flower colours are white, yellow and blue. Heirloom and native plants are particularly appropriate for pollinator plantings because of their flowers' simplicity, fragrance and - believe it or not - their pollen. Yes, modern breeders are starting to produce pollen-less flowers! Don't go there. Also be sure to have plants that flower in all three major seasons so that the bees have a constant source of food. Leaving parts of your land undisturbed encourages native bees as the vast majority are ground nesters.

Want to find out more? Visit Pollination Canada's site at  for some great resource information.