Don’t ask me to explain it, but hipsters love to ferment things.
Beer is a given. But also tea (kombucha). Soy (tempeh). Milk (kefir). And now…vegetables. Yes, the rise in “craft” vegetable production can be seen across the urban landscape – from every food truck serving up kimchi tacos to every hippie grocery store hocking $10 juniper-scented saurkraut.
And they’re not wrong. Fermented foods are incredibly good for you. Something like 80% of your immune system exists in your digestive system and fermented foods are the fastest way to load up on all those probiotics you’ve been hearing about. They’re also delicious and are an easy way to add loads of flavour to any sandwich, salad, soup or bowl of bibimbap.
So…while you might feel like the whole thing is a little “trendy” or even a little gross…Here’s a super easy recipe for those of you who might be feeling just a little curious and are interested in taking a step into fermented waters.
RECIPE: 4 Ingredient Fermented Coleslaw
- 1 large head of green cabbage
- 4 carrots
- 1 tbsp course pink salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- Remove outer leaves from cabbage and set aside for later.
- Shred vegetables with a knife, grater or food processor.
- Combine shredded carrots and cabbage in a large metal bowl, then sprinkle with salt.
- Using your hands, massage salt into vegetables for 3-4 minutes until cabbage has wilted. Vegetables will release water as they wilt.
- Pack coleslaw mixture into several mason jars or one large jar (like the one pictured above), making sure there are no pockets of air and that vegetables are submerged in their own liquid (you can add the remainder from the bowl to each jar).
- Cover coleslaw mixture with reserved cabbage leaves (these keep air from getting in and help keeps vegetables submerged).
- Leave the jar out for 3-4 days. Open the jar daily to ensure vegetables are submerged and to relieve any air pressure that may have built up in the jar. When packing down vegetables, always use a wooden utensil rather than metal as this can affect the fermentation process.
- After 3-4 days, taste the mixture. If it tasty sour, bubbly and a little spicy it is perfect! Just refrigerate and the coleslaw will keep for 2-3 months in the fridge.
Note: if this is your first time fermenting, you might want to check out this video, this kimchi recipe or this safety guide.
For most city dwellers eating at restaurants is a daily practice. Most people don’t want to rush out of the house in the morning lugging a bpa-free Tupperware of lentil salad with pockets full of cashews and a bamboo fork in their purse. For me, these things are a comfort. I love feeling prepared for my day and a big part of that is knowing that my nutrition is covered and I don’t have to rely on others for healthy, inexpensive food.
That said, on the weekends I think it’s important to release my micromanaging tendencies and let someone else do the cooking for a change.
There are so many benefits to eating out now and again, either at a friends house or your favourite neighborhood takeout spot. There’s nothing like taking a bite into something you didn’t prepare and having the flavours be a complete suprise to your palette. It’s also a great way to enhance the meals you eat day to day, by inspiring you to enjoy new ingredients and combinations. Mostly its good for your mental health and happiness to vary your routine now and then. After all, diversity is the tastiest spice.
This past weekend I had the chance to try a few spots in Roncesvalles -one of my favourite Toronto neighborhoods. The first was La Cubana, a sweet Cuban restaurant with a 50s diner vibe and the best lighting in the city. I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a grapefruit and avocado salad with a side of coconut shrimp. Heaven. Next time I definitely want to try one of the platters with rice beans slaw and spicy fish.
I also got to try one of Toronto’s best polish restaurants called Cafe Polonez. Apparently this place is so good it’s attracted the likes of Anthony Bordain. Obviously I ordered the Borscht, which was served ice cold on a hot day with an egg on top and baked potato on the side. Filling, delicious and hot pink.
While some people may believe in the 80/20 rule when it comes to healthy eating, I’m not totally convinced. I’d prefer not to label food as good or bad unless it’s past it’s expiry date. But I think it’s a great approach to eating out! Making the majority of your meals in your own kitchen is cheap, rewarding and delicious, but grabbing tacos with a pal on a Saturday afternoon is a simple luxury that you well deserve.
I think my entire generation suffers from a malignant case of FOMO. And I’m no exception.
It’s nearly impossible for me to commit to plans. When my friends text me about their breakup I’m back and forth with them for hours, but when they message me on a Friday night my response is usually 10 minute long “…” followed by 2 hours of silence.
So it’s not a suprise that this past weekend it took everything I had to escape Toronto’s busy social calendar (we pack a lot into these two months of sunshine) and head for the country.
It was worth it.
Despite all that my city has to offer, a lot can be said for a little sometimes.
So often we are overcome by stress and anxiety simply because we try to do and feel all the things, to be everywhere all at once. Paring down – on your to-do list, your social calendar, even what’s on your plate – can be just what you need to pull yourself back together.
Simple Quinoa Bowl.
Mixed organic greens
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 large chopped raw beet
1/4 cup hummus
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
balsamic and olive oil, for drizzling
1. Fill 2 bowls with greens followed by 1/2 cup chickpeas and quinoa
2. Top with chopped and a dollop of hummus (store bought or homemade)
3. Drizzle with dressing and a sprinkle of salt
As Jane Eyre once said, “the the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.“ I couldn’t agree more.
Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane Eyre in 1996
The benefits “doing it yourself” (aka DIY) go far beyond the 90s grunge/punk aesthetic (although that may have been what got me interested in the first place), it is positively life affirming.
WHY SHOULD YOU BOTHER WITH DIY?
- You provide for yourself.
As a young Gen-Y urbanite, we are constantly confronted with our lack of life skills. But being brought up in a world of coddling and convenience makes providing for ourselves all the more satisfying. Enter every young hipster male’s obsession with curing meats & fermenting or hipster female’s affection for knitting circles and terrarium maintenance.
- You get creative. Okay, that novel you wrote in grade 12 might not be so great after all. And your career as a freelance photographer has turned out to be more weddings and bar mitzvahs than artsy analog collages. But you gotta eat. So you might as well channel some of that pent up creative energy to a place where it will finally be appreciated…your belly.
- It’s meditative. Nothing says “quiet mind” like rolling out tiny balls of healthy cookie dough.
- It’s cheap. Nothing grinds my gears more than overpaying for granola I could have whipped up in the kitchen in 20 minutes. And the store bought stuff won’t make your kitchen smell like honey and coconut.
- It’s proactive. You can make decisions about what you WANT to put in your body rather than focusing on what you’d rather avoid. No dairy? Low sodium? Sugar-free? Gluten-free? Suddenly those terms melt away and all that’s left is the foods you can enjoy and the incredible things you can do with those ingredients.
All of this brings me to the main point which is…this garlic scape pesto.
Now you know who makes a good pesto? President’s Choice. (<— Canadian grocery store brand). You know who else makes even better pesto? The local, organic farmer’s co-op near my house. Vegan kale pesto in fact. It’s not even that expensive. But this week I took the time to use seasonal ingredients to make something delicious and healthy for myself. And the results were pretty perfect.
Glowing Green Garlic Scape Pesto (V)
Adapted from here
1 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (or 2/3 cup finely chopped chives, plus 1/3 cup finely chopped garlic)
1/2 cup olive oil
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Pulse garlic scapes, oil, nutritional yeast, and cashews in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.
Yield: about 1.5 cups. If you like, freeze half the batch in an ice cube tray so you can use it to add flavour to your sauces, pastas and salads all summer long