A Guide to Feeding our Future

Archive for the ‘Side Dishes’ Category

NOVEMBER Feature Food: Mushrooms

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

mushrooms for Novemeber

Let me introduce you to my friend fungus, the good kind, not the kind that grows in between your toes!

Mushrooms are bountiful in the fall and especially here on the west coast where mushroom foraging is an activity that many people take part in.  By this time of year, plenty of mushrooms have been collected from our forests and there are still many more to grow.  Now, before you get excited and start frolicking into the forest looking for your dinner.  Remember that there are also many poisonous mushrooms too.  Know your mushrooms well, forage with a professional/experienced forager or pick up a good mushroom identifying book and get educated.

There are many ways in which we can discuss mushrooms, the growth patterns, planting, production, oriental medicine, sustainable agriculture, harvesting methods, varieties and the seemingly everlasting life force that they thrive upon.   For the sake of this article and this website, though, we must discuss mushrooms based upon their medicinal and nutritional values.  Don’t worry, mushrooms have a plethora of these too.

Let’s first clarify the variety of mushrooms I will be referring to.  Most mushrooms found in your grocery stores and the most commonly used mushrooms are button/white/field mushrooms.  These are NOT a great source of any nutrients.  In fact they contain, little to no nutrient value.  The mushrooms that I mean to award for excellent nutrient value and support for great health are: Maitake, Reishi, Shitake, Crimini, Lobster and Chantrelle mushrooms. (Round of applause!)

If mushrooms are grown in a forest or area with good quality soil, all of these mushrooms will include high amounts of potassium, folate, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.   These vitamins and minerals alone make mushrooms a great support for the immune system, the cardiovascular system, for anemia, vegans/vegetarians and for diabetics and hypoglycemics.

Mushrooms contain a very bio-available form of iron (ferrous gluconate), making it much easier on our systems to assimilate this vascular oxygenating nutrient.  So, forget your constipating iron supplements and eat crimini mushrooms instead!  (please don’t take that statement too seriously…always see your health practitioner for advice before making drastic changes to your health plans)

All of our white blood cells are positively impacted by the phytonutrients in mushrooms; particularly the crimini, who have a lengthily range of components that deliver amazing nutrient support on a cellular level.  It’s these great nutrients that have the ability to deactivate some forms of cancer cells, especially those that are hormone related ie: breast and prostate.

For our immune systems and for our vegan/vegetarian friends shitakes are my favorite.  They are composed of all 8 essential amino acids and are therefore considered a whole source of protein.  The shitake is the meat of the plant world.  A lot of these other mushrooms contain many amino acids as well and are therefore higher on the protein list for plant sources.  When paired with another high source of amino acids ie: corn, millet, black beans, we are able to create a full vegetarian protein.

Mushrooms are known to be generally cleansing and inflammation reducing by increasing our oxidative metabolism.  Also, due to the high amounts of B3, B6, B12 they are great support for the digestive/intestinal system, the nervous system and the hormonal system.  They are an amazing food source for supporting individuals with diabetes, cardiovascular issues and again cancer.

These super-heroes have the nutrient composition to decrease overall cholesterol levels (total cholesterol, LDL and TG’s).  They are a great antioxidant and impact our metabolism directly by increasing enzyme activity, thus AGAIN improving overall digestion and therefore assimilation of nutrients.  It amazes me time and time again how whole foods naturally contain all that we need to obtain all of it’s nutritious glory!  It’s like they’re placed here just for our bodies to thrive!

Often the nutritional research shows the value of mushrooms medicinally by discussing the mushroom extractions ie: tinctures, teas and extracts.  These are also great options for using mushrooms to heal, protect and strengthen our systems for many different chronic and deep ailments.

I hope you now have a short glimpse of why I and many other health practitioners believe mushrooms to be so deserving of all 5 gold stars.

5 gold stars

**Do note that if you are experiencing intestinal yeast overgrowth, that mushrooms can have adverse effects for you.  Please do not consume mushrooms of any variety until you have (re-) established homeostasis in your gut. If you are unaware of how to do this, or identify this please see you Holistic health professional.  Or contact any one of us on here anytime, we would be happy to guide you in the right direction!

Let me now share with you my favorite mushroom recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Marinated Imperial Mushrooms

quatrered mushrooms

  • 15-20 mushrooms (shitake, maitake, lobster, crimini, chantrelle…)
  • 1 tsp of each:
    Cinnamon, cumin, fresh grated ginger, fresh grated turmeric, coriander sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
  • ½ tsp of each:
    Nutmeg, clove, cardamom and anise.
  • 5 cloves of garlic (chopped in half, lengthwise)
  • 4 shallots (chopped in half, lengthwise)
  • 1 small bundle of fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 1 small bundle of fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 2 TBSP butter or coconut oil
  • juice of 1 whole lemon


  1. Chop mushrooms into chunks/quartered.
  2. Slice garlic and shallots in halves.
  3. Mix all spices together with mushrooms, garlic, shallots and thyme Squeeze lemon juice over top and let marinate in a sealed container in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours.
  4. Once ready to cook, turn a frying pan onto medium heat.
  5. Put butter or coconut oil in pan.
  6. Toss marinated mushrooms into the frying pan, ensuring mushrooms are well saturated.
  7. Cook for 10-12 minutes, serve and top with chopped cilantro.

Simple Sauerkraut

By: Susan Kingston, RHN, NNCP – Montreal, QC



  • 1 green cabbage, about 5 lbs. (2.3 kg)
  • 2 TBSP sea salt


  1. Peel off the tough outer leaves of the cabbage.
  2. Use a large knife to remove the core and julienne the rest (a meat slicer works well).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine cabbage and salt.
  4. Use your fists to push the cabbage down and break it up, kneading it until it is soft (you really have to pound the cabbage to soften it). As you are doing this, the salt will already start to leach water from the cabbage. After 5 to 10 minutes, you’ll have soft cabbage covered in its own liquid.
  5. Transfer to a tall, narrow container. A juice jug, or something similar, works well.
  6. Cover with cling wrap and wipe down the sides of the container. Use something heavy to weigh down the cabbage such as a glass jar or a rock, so that it remains below the water level (to prevent it from spoiling in the oxygen).
  7. Seal cling wrap tightly over the top to prevent bugs from getting in.
  8. Store at room temperature for 10 to 21 days. It could take up to 3 weeks, but taste it around 10 days and then every few days after that. If it tastes really strange – like gym socks or excessively sulphurous – toss it out! The advantage of this recipe is that a head of cabbage costs about two dollars. So if we make a mistake – like not covering the cabbage in brine, which can create a mould that consumes the lactic acid – it shouldn’t be too great a loss to toss it and start again.
  9. When it tastes like sauerkraut, it’s done! Transfer to lidded containers and store in fridge. Makes about 3 litres.

Coco’s Coconut Rice

By: Anik Vienneau, RHN – Shediac, NB

“This coconut rice is really tasty and easy to make!”

coconut rice

Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 medium red onion sliced
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Fresh Cilantro (for garnish)


  1. In a medium pot, melt 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
  2. Saute onions in oil until soft.
  3. Add 1 more tbsp of coconut oil and add rice. Blend until it has absorbed the oil.
  4. Add the can of coconut milk and the 3 cups of water and blend well.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Turn down to medium-low heat to bring to a simmer.
  7. Sprinkle Cumin, salt and crushed garlic into rice.
  8. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until all liquids have been absorbed.

Options: Try adding shredded coconut or pistachios to make this dish extra special!


Bruschetta Mix

By: Ian Fleming, RHN – Moncton, NB

Use as a topping on your favorite baguette, crackers, or in dinner recipes to top pizza, pasta, chicken or fish!


 Yields: 3 cups


  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes, small dice
  • 1/2 cup red onion, small dice
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight.

*Variation: To make salsa, add cilantro, jalapeno and lemon or lime juice.

JUNE Feature Food: Fennel

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, B.C.

Fennel is a very versatile food.  It’s often underrated, I believe mostly due to the fact that people don’t know how to enjoy it. Its appearance is overwhelming to some, and is therefore only consumed at restaurants in salads.  It’s flavour is like anise, which similar to a mild black liquorice.

Hopefully our June article can change your opinion of this deliciously flavour-packed nutrient dense food.


Fennel pleasures us with its company early spring to summer depending on your specific region and its climate. Its scent is mild, but aromatic enough to get our digestive juices flowing. It is a member of the Umbellifereae family making its cousins, dill, parsley, carrot and coriander.

I consider fennel to be an amazing food, full of all the good stuff.  It’s chalk full of many healing and health promoting properties.  Known for its antiseptic and anti-microbial properties, which help to calm inflammation or irritation in the digestive tract and can be helpful in relieving stomach upset, colic, heartburn and IBS.  It’s always a good idea to munch on some fennel leaves if you’re feeling nauseous.  Or have some fennel tea, if you’re suffering from indigestion.

Fennel has a high Potassium content making it great for decreasing blood pressure, supporting heart conditions and balancing electrolytes.  Its high Vitamin A  (Beta-carotene) content helps the protection of our tissues and is considered a beautifier.  Eat fennel for your skin, mucous membranes, bones, teeth, eyes, hair and nails and also to help the production of T-cell antibodies that fight off infection and promote a healthy immune system.  In fact, fennel is also quite high in Vitamin C, so if you’re feeling a little run down, grab some fennel and chomp it up!  The list goes on really, fennel contains many health supporting vitamins and minerals.

How to eat fennel:

It’s really quite easy, the root (white part at the bottom) is most often what’s used in pickling or shaved on top of salads, which is a great simple way to introduce this into your diet.  I am personally a fan of using the whole thing.  You can eat the root, fronds (stems), leaves and seeds.  It’s seeds and leaves are most often used medicinally in teas and in Indian cooking.  Fennel is my ultimate favourite when steamed in broth with a few other root veggies.  Here’s my favourite easy way to receive all the healthy benefits of this phenomenal food:

Poached Fennel With Rainbow Carrots and Bok Choi

paoching fennel and carrots


  • 1 medium fennel, washed, leaves and fronds removed and placed to the side
  • 1 bunch small rainbow carrots (rainbow only to beautify the plate), washed and with the tops still on
  • 6 baby bok choi, washed
  • 3-4 shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp caper berries
  • 3 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • ½ bottle of dry white wine or ½ cup apple cider vinegar and 2 TBSP butter
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Cracked black pepper to taste


    1. Chop fronds (stems), in 1” pieces
    2. Slice fennel bulb in half lengthwise, make 2 angled cuts to remove the core and slice halves in thirds (depending on the size, you’ll want to keep these fairly intact).
    3. Slice shallots lengthwise, either halves or thirds depending on the size.
    4. Crush garlic, or slice in halves.
    5. Heat a large saucepan or poaching pot on medium high heat.
    6. Add broth and wine or vinegar and butter and bay leaf.
    7. Once the liquid has begun lightly bubbling turn down to medium and add fennel fronds and bulb, carrots shallots and garlic.
    8. Simmer covered for about 7-10 minutes.
    9. Add bok choi, capers and lemon juice.
    10. Simmer another 5 minutes or until all vegetables are cooked yet still crunchy.
    11. Remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and cracked black pepper.  Garnish with fennel leaves as desired and enjoy!

Note: I like to serve my poached fennel with wild rice.  I sometimes add a fish to the poaching liquid and cook the vegetables around it.  Play around.

MAY Feature Food: Cabbage Tops!

By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC

cabbage tops

Cabbage tops?! Say what?!

That’s right, get ready to discover the satisfyingly sweet and crisp flavour of these little spring gems. May is the time of year when almost everywhere, things have REALLY begun sprouting and growing. Cabbage is one of the first vegetables to be picked and has already started flowering. These pretty little buds are exceptional for our health this time of year and are really simple to cook up too!

Cabbage tops are so delicious. I’m quite obsessed with them right now, and am so happy to be writing this article to share my love for this scrumptious food. These tops are not bitter like some other dark leafy greens, but rather sweet instead.They cook up quite nice and easy. With a little butter and garlic, you have a delicious veggie side in 10 mins.

Not only are these little beauties delicious they are also good for you. Considering the fact that they are a flower, much like a sprout, they are a
highly enzymatic food, meaning they provide us with plenty of energy, energy that we all need more of at this time of year. When we’re recovering from the cold winter months and transitioning into the busier summer months.

Cabbage tops are a great spring cleansing food and a fantastically economical way of getting that second round out of your cabbage patch, if you have your own. Because cabbages themselves are a part of the cruciferous family, so are the tops, (obviously) making them a great source of much needed nutrients…these tops are chalk full of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, fibre, antioxidants and glutamine. Which means they’re helpful for supporting the cardiovascular system, the immune system, cancer heart disease, cancer and for beautifying the skin and cells.

For a quick side, follow my favourite Cabbage Top recipe here:

cooking cabbage tops


  • 1 bunch cabbage tops (approx 20 stalks)
  • 3-4 garlic scapes
  • ½ a lemon’s juice
  • 1 TBSP butter


  • Wash cabbage tops and scapes in cool water until clean.
  • Heat a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Chop about 2-3 inches from the tops of the cabbage tops and discard.
  • Chop the remainder into 3” lengths or keep whole , depending on your serving preference.
  • Add butter to the skillet and melt.
  • Chop scapes into desired size (I usually chop them into 2” chunks)
  • Add the scapes to the pan tossing for aprox. 3 mins.
  • Add the cabbage tops and toss in the butter and scapes for another 3mins.
  • Add about 2 tbs of water and cover for 5 mins or until stems are tender and bright.
  • Squeeze ½ a lemon’s juice over top and serve.

Enjoy as a side along with beans, fish or tempeh or with other veggies in a stir-fry. YUM!

Rosemary Quinoa

By:  Amy Roberts, RHN – Moncton, NB

Quinoa is one of my favorite foods! Gluten free, high in protein and easy to prepare. I decided to improvise with some ingredients I had on hand and I’m so glad I did! This would be great as a side dish, or on its own for a light lunch.



  • 1 Cup quinoa, soaked or rinsed
  • 2 Cups organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or water)
  • ¼ Cup onion, diced
  • 2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped


  1. Add all ingredients to a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid has absorbed.
  4. Season to taste (I usually dress mine with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt).

Note: Allow chopped garlic to sit for 10 minutes prior to cooking, to retain its health benefits.

Hot Holiday Millet

By: André Belliveau, RHN – Dieppe, NB

A colourful, gluten-free holiday side dish!


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 5 tsp Nutritional Yeast (found in health food stores)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp (each) sea salt, cayenne pepper, thyme, oregano, sage
  • 4 tsp olive oil


  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil.
  2. Add millet, simmer 20 min or until fluffy.
  3. In a frying pan, cook onion and peppers in coconut oil.
  4. Add cooked mixture to millet.
  5. Stir in remaining ingredients. Enjoy warm or cold!

Spicy Edamame Pods

By: Amanda Bretthauer, RHN – Clinton, BC

“A quick and easy appetizer! Edamame are fresh green soybeans, usually found in your grocer’s frozen food section  – and they’re great for serving up a quick protein! If this is your first time having them….you don’t eat the pods! Just the yummy beans inside.”


  • 2 cups edamame pods
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt


  1. Boil edamame pods (from frozen) for 5 minutes and drain.
  2. Immediately toss with spices and salt and serve warm.

Caramel Apple Pecan Baked Spaghetti Squash

By: Amanda Bretthauer, RHN – Clinton, BC

“A great way for kids to eat squash!”


  • one spaghetti squash, cut into quarters, seeds removed
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 TBSP unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 TBSP dark brown sugar (Sucanat recommended)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste (it really adds to the dish)
  • a few pecans…..or lots!


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place squash wedges in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water added to the bottom.
  3. Mix other ingredients except pecans together and spread onto squash.
  4. Bake until almost soft (about 20 mins), then sprinkle with pecans and bake until soft and nuts are toasted (about 5-10 more mins).