how many “10 best foods” are we eating?

Alanna (A Veggie Venture) posted a list of “Ten Best Foods You’re Not Eating“. She wrote the following:

[T]ell me, where do you stand?

> A+ to anyone who’s tried all 10.
> Kudos to anyone who’s heard of all 10.
> Cheers to anyone who commits to find all 10!

Here is the list and my initial reactions to it (I’m afraid we don’t quite make the grade).

  1. Beets check
  2. Cabbage check
  3. Guava check(ish)
  4. Swiss chard check
  5. Cinnamon check(maybe)
  6. Purslane well, I’ve heard of it….
  7. Pomegranate juice well, I’ve heard of it….
  8. Goji berries huh??
  9. Dried plums (as in: prunes) check
  10. Pumpkin seeds check

Hmmm… only 7/10 (or possibly it’s 6/10) I’m guessing we might get as much as a B+ on our report card. You be the judge.

Beetscheck I adore beets. My favourite is beet tops sauteed with caramelized garlic and dill seed. And I love the beets themselves too. Borscht!! I LOVE borscht.

And inexplicably, we really don’t eat beets often enough. I have no good recipe for borscht and haven’t really tried to make one. Why not?

And pickled beets… my father-in-law makes excellent pickled beets. This summer, we tried to coerce him into giving us all his jars to take home with us, but he refused. Clearly, we must pickle some beets ourselves! There is really nothing so delicious as a pickled beet cheddar cheese sandwich….

Remind me to get some beets! Does anyone have a great borscht recipe?

Read more about beets:

Cabbagecheck This is another vegetable we love. And we don’t get it often enough at all! Red cabbage is my favourite. But other ones are fine. I adore coleslaw – creamy or not – and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never made it.

Chinese cabbage (aka Napa cabbage) is an absolute essential in Fondue Chinoise.

And Kimchi!! I love Kimchi!! There is a wonderful Korean restaurant not far from us that serves the best Pork Bone Soup. And of course, a dish of kimchi comes automatically. The first time I tried kimchi, I thought it was just a little too funky. I tried another bite and still thought it was a little funky. But I couldn’t stop tasting it. And suddenly, even though I still think it’s a bit funky, I absolutely adore it.

Remind me to get some cabbage! I believe I need it for the borscht.

Read more about cabbage:

Guavacheck(ish) I love guava but have not seen guavas for sale here, except in canned juice, which is invariably needlessly laced with sugar. I’ve only ever had fresh guava in India.

One day when we were travelling in India, we passed by a table covered in guavas with a couple of sample fruits cut in half. There was a pink fleshed guava! I had hoped to try pink fleshed guavas and we asked if he could tell which were pink inside. He happily nodded. And we said we’d like a half dozen pink fleshed guavas. The simple fellow picked up a fruit and cut it in half to reveal its white flesh. He said, “Not pink”, and picked up another fruit. Eeek!!! Luckily, we were able to stop him and bought half a dozen uncut guavas. And they were delicious. And they were all white fleshed. (I still wonder how many guavas the man would have ruined just to find us a half dozen pink fleshed ones….)

Read more about guava:

Swiss chardcheck One of our favourite Indian-style vegetables is stir-fried greens. We use spinach, kale, dandelion greens or Swiss chard. Delicious! (I cannot believe how much I disliked Swiss chard when I was a child.) Sadly, swiss chard tends to lose its beautiful red colour when it is stir-fried this way. It turns almost black. But it still tastes fantastic. (I wonder if adding a tiny bit of vinegar would preserve the red colour.)

Read more about Swiss Chard:

Cinnamoncheck(maybe) What don’t we use cinnamon in? Forgive me if I do not make a list. Although… I’m pretty sure that we are using cassia. Does cassia have the same health-giving properties as cinnamon?

Read more about Cinnamon and Cassia:

Purslane Purslane? Ummm… well, I’ve heard of it… But I don’t think I’d recognize it if I saw it or tasted it.

I googled “purslane” and see that “summer purslane” is the same as “portulaca”. Portulaca is edible?!! I’ve grown it many times as an ornamental but had no idea it was edible!

And looking at the photo in the Cook’s Thesaurus, I’m guessing that we may have bought purslane thinking it was watercress. I bet that we’ve had it in restaurant salads.

Read more about purslane:

Pomegranate juice Pomegranate juice? I love pomegranates. I’m not wild about pomegranate syrup though. But again, we can’t really get great pomegranates here unless we’re willing to pay a fortune. (I don’t think I’ve even seen pomegranate juice!)

Google google…

Well, I’ll be! It turns out that grenadines are made with sweetened pomegranate syrup. And the pomegranate molasses that we have in the fridge is concentrated pomegranate juice (zero sugar)! I must say that I’m not wild about the flavour of it. Perhaps it’s the brand of pomegranate molasses that we bought?

Change that to Pomegranate juicecheck!

It’s an essential ingredient in muhammara (Middle Eastern condiment made with walnuts, red pepper, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses) that is a favourite condiment of several bloggers. I made some last week but haven’t yet posted about it. (I put in too much pomegranate juice so ours only tastes okay if it’s heavily disguised in rice or couscous.)

Remind me to post about mhammara!

Read more about pomegranate juice:

Goji berries Say what?

I googled “goji berries” and see they are also called “wolf berries Lycium barbarum” from the matrimonial vine (aka barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree) of the nightshade family. I’m guessing that I’ve seen the berries dried in Chinatown. I’m guessing we may even have tasted them.

We thought they were giuggioles Ziziphus zizyphus (aka jujubes, Chinese dates) but no. Wrong again.

Read more about goji berries and giuggioles:

Dried plumscheck I had no idea that it is now de rigeur to call prunes “dried plums”! :lalala: I adore prunes (ooops!!! I mean “dried plums”) and we had them a couple of nights ago in chicken with dried fruits served over couscous.

Read more about prunes:

Pumpkin seedscheck I always think that whole pumpkin seeds are too much work to eat (but T loves them). I gather from reading that the shell is edible but I’m not that wild about the shell – I think I’m eating enough fiber and ruffage…. But pepitas, on the other hand, are great! Pepitas have the shell taken off. We buy them in Kensington Market. They are an essential ingredient in enchiladas and Faux Stowe crackers. We also like to scatter a few pepitas, along with dried cranberries and raisins, on top of our morning ancient grains cereal served with plain yoghurt.

Read more about pumpkin seeds:

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  • CAM

    Hmm, well, 7 out of 10 is nowadays a “B” and 6 would be a C. But you’d be scaled up to an “A” if you scaled in comparison to a lot of people! At our place we get an “F” (beets, cabbage, cinnamon and “dried plums” the only ones on our list! However, some of these items may not be available except through imports. In Canada there are local sources of only a few… Excellent blog entry!

  • ejm

    Good point about local vs imported, CAM. As far as I can know, guava, cinnamon, pomegranate juice, goji berries would all have to be imported. So if we have to adhere to the hundred mile diet, this would bring our score down to 6/10. Which would be a “C”. (Hmmm, C for Canadian? :lalala:)

    Although… it looks like the goji berries could be grown in some parts of Canada. I see that the vine is hardy to zone 7. We’re in zone 6 here but with some mollycoddling and a LOT of skill (that I don’t really have) I’m guessing that the berries could be grown outdoors in Ontario.

    Pomegranate is hardy in zones 7-10. Again. Mollycoddling and skill would be required here as well.

    Guava is hardy to zone 9 (I think), which means that even fewer Canadians might be able to grow guava trees. Here’s what Richters (richters.com) has to say about growing guavas:

    [The] zone number should be around 9 to 11 […]. Most guavas take 4 to 5 years to reach maturity. In northern climates with poor winter sun and indoor wintering it may take a bit longer.

    And cinnamon? Hahaha!! I love that the following site says that growing cinnamon is only moderately difficult!

    Richters does not sell cinnamon plants or seeds. I’m not entirely sure how one would go about getting a cinnamon sapling…

    However, with a LOT of work, most Canadians adhering to the 100 mile diet might be able to pull their score up to 100%.

  • Fun post. I’ve tried them all except for the berries. Now, I’ll have to find them to score a “10.” :)

  • ejm

    Showoff! ;-) :-)

    I’m curious, have you tried actual cinnamon, Susan? I’m not certain if I ever have. I gather that it’s mostly cassia that we get in North America.

  • For me it’s a bit of a conundrum. We regularly eat 4 of them, 1 or 2 others might, possibly, be available and the rest would have to ordered online or smuggled in… Where does that leave the Eat Local bit – which is what we do… Because that is what we get.
    You did very well!

  • Name Withheld to Protect the Indignant

    Aha! You guys are making it REALLY hard. Of course you could take the course of a Winnipeg tea store which markets, um, Manitoba Tea because the ingredients COULD be grown in Manitoba — — even though they weren’t. And then there’s the Manitoba Rooibos because, well, “Rooibos is only grown in South Africa but Manitobans really like it and besides, the OTHER ingredients might be grown in Manitoba.” :-)

  • ejm

    Blame it on CAM, NameWithheld, who was the one who introduced the “100 mile diet” snag to the 10 best foods list. Frankly, even though I am trying to choose local over imported things, I simply refuse to stop eating those items that really have to be imported. Things like cinnamon and just about any fresh vegetable during the winter months.

    (Does the Manitoba tea store REALLY sell something called “Manitoba Tea” because the ingredients could come from Manitoba?!)

  • David

    Here’s a good borscht recipe if you still don’t have one.

    1 large sweet onion chopped
    2 medium tomatoes chopped
    1 stock celery finely chopped
    4 large carrots grated
    4 cups red cabbage chopped
    1/2 medium green pepper chopped
    1 large potato peeled and chopped
    2-3 large beets
    4 cups of good homemade chicken stock (sometimes I’ll use a double broth for this soup)
    1/3 or more cup fresh dill chopped
    1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley chopped
    4 cups water from boiled beets
    2 cups water
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 Tbsp good red wine vinegar
    3 bay Leaves
    salt to taste (approx 3 tsp)
    sour cream

    1. Melt butter over medium heat in large pot, add onions and cook until translucent.

    2. Add tomatoes, green peppers and celery. Add 4 cups chicken stock, 1 cup water, parsley and bay leaves. Bring to simmer.

    3. Clean beets and boil in 4 cups of water until cooked.

    4. Add water from boiled beets and potatoes to vegatable/stock mixture.

    5. Add cabbage.

    6. Peel and grate beets and add to pot.

    7. Add red wine vinegar and dill.

    8. Simmer for another 20 minutes, salt to taste and serve with dollop of sour cream.