Roasted Sweet Potato & Garlic Hummus

I’ll admit, the first time I tried hummus I wasn’t impressed.  It very dry, over-powered with garlic and rather unpalatable — not a recipe I felt obliged to try! But after sampling a few store bought varieties  — roasted red pepper, caramelized onion — I thought maybe hummus wasn’t so bad after all.  Then I found a recipe for Sweet Potato Hummus at Alaska from Scratch  which converted me to the ‘pulse side’ of snacking!  I adapted it to use heart-healthy canola oil and incorporated a few great tips from a Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus recipe at Nita at Carrots & Cake. The result — a family favourite, kid-approved, delicious, addictive, smooth and creamy hummus! 

Roasted Sweet Potato & Garlic Hummus

Main Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato (approx 1 lb or 500 grams), drizzle of canola oil
  • 1 – 19 oz (540 ml) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 3 cloves *roasted garlic or 1 raw garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (optional)

Spice Mixture:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg

Garnish options:

  • Parsley
  • Green onions
  • Hemp hearts
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Grated or ground nutmeg
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon rind

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Scrub the sweet potato & dry thoroughly. Pierce the skin 2-3 times with a knife or fork and lightly coat with a drizzle of canola oil.
  3. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 45 min — 1 hour, until tender.
  4. Let cool, peel off skin, cut off any dark spots and cut into 4 —5 cm pieces.
  5. *If roasting garlic, toss cloves with a bit of canola oil, wrap in foil & place on baking sheet with the sweet potato. Garlic will take less time to roast so remove from oven after about 30 minutes.
  6. Drain & thoroughly rinse chickpeas.
  7. Toss chickpeas, sweet potato, garlic, canola oil, lemon juice, hemp hearts (if desired) & spice mixture into blender or food processor
  8. . Blend well, scraping down as needed. If it isn’t as smooth & creamy as you’d like, add more canola oil (or water), a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches desired consistency.

To serve, drizzle with canola oil and top with your choice of garnishes. Serve with crackers & raw veggies. This also makes a wonderful spread for sandwiches or wraps. Basically this hummus is so good, you will get very creative in finding ways to use it, other than just eating it ‘straight-up’ with a spoon — which, by the way, is totally acceptable!

Notes:

  • Roasted garlic is sweeter & less overpowering than raw garlic, hence only use 1 clove if opting for raw.  My family loves it either way!
  • Hemp hearts will add a nutty flavour & slightly change the consistency of the hummus, but they also add protein, fibre & healthy fats.
  • Encourage creativity in the kitchen by letting the kids help. They love to personalize their snack by choosing their own garnishes, crackers & veggies.

Storage:

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 -5 days, if it lasts that long…

“Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation” begins National Tour

Originally published in the March 2017  issue of Canola Digest


Sandi Knight photo

What happens Canada’s 150th birthday and Canola’s 50th anniversary collide? The Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum (CAFM) in Ottawa celebrates with a nation-wide tour of a new travelling exhibition, “Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation”. This exhibit made its debut at Canola Council of Canada’s “Good As Gold” 50th Annual Convention in Winnipeg on March 7—9. It will be on display at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport in the arrivals hall through March 23rd.

Designed to tell the story of canola to Canadians, this 500-square-foot exhibit is interactive, hands-on and designed for all ages. It is comprised of two C-shaped configurations — one to make you feel immersed in a field of canola, the other as though you are walking into a processing plant. It will highlight canola’s versatility from cooking oil to canola meal, biofuels, ink, plastics and cosmetics. Visitors will learn the history — from a crop that didn’t exist 50 years ago to the multi-billion industry that exists in Canada today. They will discover the on-going science, research and innovation behind canola.

Credit: Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation

Credit: Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next five years, it will travel to museums, science centres, indoor and outdoor exhibitions, hospitals, shopping malls and airports. A map and links can be found on-line at CAFM.

The main gallery of the CAFM will also house a long-term, more in-depth, 2,500-square-foot exhibit.  It will connect to the museum’s demonstration kitchen, providing access for hands-on learning food experiences. The museum, which hosts 200,000 visitors/year, is a working farm, so as guests tour they will see canola growing and learn how canola meal is used in food rations for livestock and poultry.

The CAFM wants to ensure the canola story is accessible to all Canadians, so those unable to visit either exhibit will be able to access information and resources on the website.

Kerry-Leigh Burchill, director general of the CAFM states it was a fortuitous meeting with Simone Demers Collins, market development & promotions coordinator of Alberta Canola, at a Grow Canada Conference in Ottawa that led to this new exhibit to celebrate Canada’s 150th. Burchill said the museum was looking for a crop or a process that had “a very strong connection to innovation by Canadians in the fields of science and technology when it came to agriculture.”  To which Collins replied, “I think that story can be canola.”

Canadian canola grower associations and industry partners then stepped up to the plate to collaborate and sponsor the exhibit.

To ensure accuracy and a balanced representation for the exhibits, a National Advisory Council provided advice and input. The 13 member panel from a wide cross-section disciplines, included Dr. Keith Downey, one of the fathers of canola. Focus groups and surveys ensured terminology used was understandable to the general public.

The goal is to showcase agriculture as an ever-evolving industry, highlight the heritage of this made-in-Canada crop along with the benefits of growing canola from health, food security, environmental, economic and sustainability perspectives. Burchill hopes the exhibit will even inspire young students to chose a career path in agriculture.

Communication and education are key to the advancement of agriculture in Canada. This initiative will be a valuable reminder of just how far the canola industry has come in 50 years.

Courtesy Canola Council of Canada

Thoughts on "Canola: A Canadian Story of Innovation" 

Sandi Knight photo

“I think it’s an opportunity to be able to allow the urban population in particular, and farmers as well, to see where canola came from – the humble beginnings, where it’s going and the variety of products available from canola.” — Bruce Dalgarno, Farmer, Newdale, MB

 

Sandi Knight photo

“When visitors have the opportunity to learn from our farmers, hear their stories about growing ingredients for our recipes and food for our tables, a deeper farm to food connection is made. The display will give Canadians an opportunity to #ExploreCanola.” — Ellen Pruden, Education and Promotions Manager Manitoba Canola Growers/Canola Eat Well

Sandi Knight photo

“As the Canola Council of Canada celebrates 50 years in 2017 we couldn’t be more proud to tell the story of five decades of achievement and transformation in the Canadian canola industry and the exciting opportunities ahead. The exhibition is an excellent example of the innovative and collaborative spirit that’s driven canola’s success and we’re honoured to be able to launch the #ExploreCanola tour at our upcoming Convention.” — Patti Miller, President, Canola Council of Canada

Sandi Knight photo

“It is undeniable that the science, research and innovation behind canola changed how a lot of agriculture is done around the world”. — Kerry-Leigh Burchill Director General, Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

 

Do farmers add value to trade missions?

Originally published in the March 2017 issue of Canola Digest 


Sandi Knight photo

Canola is Canada’s top agricultural export to China, accounting for 40% of canola seed exports. Maintaining this market is essential for the canola industry and the 43,000 Canadian farmers who grow it.

Jack Froese, a farmer from Winkler, director and treasurer of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association and now Chair of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, visited China last November. He was part the Team Canada Trade Mission led by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Left to Right:  Jack Froese; Barry Senft – Grain Farmers of Ontario; Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Jim Smolik – Canadian Grain Commission; Jim Everson – Soy Canada.

Froese attended meetings and seminars as well as a food show, which hosted over 72,000 trade buyers and 2,350 food companies from 66 countries and regions. The enormity of this show highlights the importance of the growing Chinese market and the competitiveness of countries rivaling for export business.

Producers attending trade missions are seen as a trusted, credible source of reliable, accurate information. When exporters have questions about agronomy and specific farm practices, such as crop rotation or pesticide use, farmers can address those queries. This helps build relationships and confidence in crop quality.

Froese states it is also an opportunity to find out what competitors are doing. You see the intricacies of the whole system in getting our crop from the bin to the plate. You find out how easily a market can disappear with changes in governments, their food policies, legislation, currency, transportation or stance on biotechnology. When we export 90% of our canola, awareness of the challenges in the global marketplace at the producer level is crucial in adapting and being prepared to comply with changes as they happen.

Whether it be trade missions, meetings at home or abroad, Froese has found his involvement in with the MCGA, CCCA and other farm organizations to be very rewarding: seeing firsthand the ripple effects of what happens beyond the farm gate, gaining a better understanding of trade, policy and transportation, being part of a team responsible for getting Canadian products to customers around the globe. It has broadened his awareness of safety net programs, sustainability, marketing, food integrity, storage, environmental and social sciences issues that impact his farm and those of farmers in Manitoba.

However, without his son running the day-to-day operations of their family farm, along with a nephew and three other employees, Froese knows he wouldn’t have the time or flexibility to contribute. He encourages producers to take on active roles – at whatever level their operation allows. He admits while does take time away from the farm, “If I didn’t have a passion for it, I wouldn’t be there.”

#BeBoldForChange ― Remembering Wangari Maathai

“The tree is living, it is beautiful, it inspires, it grow upwards, it gives shade, it brings back life, and so the tree becomes a symbol of hope.” ― Wangari Maathai Photograph: Sandi Knight

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. A woman who embodied this, long before being bold was acceptable, was Wangari Maathai. She was a fearless visionary who faced problems head-on and implemented solutions with determination, grit and heart.

From the first time I heard of Wangari Maathai, her story resonated with me. Born in Nyeri, a rural area of Kenya, in 1940, this self-proclaimed “child of the soil” loved the feeling of contentment she experienced when working on the land alongside her mother. She had a deep connection with the environment, with trees and with people which led her to a host of achievements in her 71 years.

She was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, the first female head of a university department in Kenya and the first African woman and first environmentalist to become a Nobel laureate. Wangari Maathai was an elected member of Parliament in Kenya and assistant Minister of Environment. She authored four books. Her list of credits and accomplishments is lengthy but did not come without significant struggle. Over the years she was arrested, jailed and beaten, but she never gave up on her beliefs. Until her passing in 2011, she continued to strive for improvements in environmental conservation, democracy and human rights.

Members of the Green Belt Movement prepare seedlings.  Photograph: Wendy Stone/Reuters

The world became much more aware of Professor Maathai in 2004 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots, non-governmental organization which she founded in 1977. After hearing rural women of Kenya speak of their struggles to find firewood and water, of the loss of topsoil, of malnutrition diseases in their children, she understood that deforestation was connected to it all. Her response, “Why not plant trees?” And so, despite ridicule and many hurdles, her mission began.

The women were paid a small fee to plant and care for trees. Earning an income, while protecting and preserving their land and resources improved their lives, but also ensured a better future. Professor Maathai understood by empowering these women to break the cycle, change would reverberate in the world around them. She  understood the connection between the environment and social, economic and political issues, “…not only were we planting trees, but we were planting seeds of peace, seeds for democracy, seeds for respect for human rights.”

The Green Belt Movement’s mission is to “strive for better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement using tree-planting as an entry point.” Through this program, more than 51 million trees have been planted throughout Kenya. The growth and impact of this movement since 1977 is astounding.

International Women’s Day is a time to honour and remember exceptional women like Wangari Maathai. Her inspiring story reminds us that being bold starts one step at a time. Stand up for what you believe in. Implement solutions. Empower yourself and those around you. Move forward together, build momentum and change will happen.

Wangari Maathai pictured in Kiriti, Kenya, in 2004. Photograph: Micheline Pelletier/Corbis

“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.” ― Wangari Maathai

So today let us celebrate achievements of those who came before us. Let us continue to support, encourage and empower one another, regardless of occupation, status or race. Rejoice in, and value everyday contributions.

Collectively, we can make a difference and continue to improve the world.  #BeBoldForChange

“We cannot tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!” ―  Wangari Maathai 


Why not share Wangari Maathai’s story with the younger women in your life through this book?  “Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa

Show. Share. Connect.

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Canola in bloom east of our farmyard

Recently I had the opportunity to host the Manitoba Canola Growers booth at an Ag Awareness Expo. Not having done this before, I was a little nervous. But I was advised to, “Be you. Be authentic. Listen for common ground.”

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“It’s what in the inside that counts”

As people stopped by, conversations began to flow and it wasn’t long before nervousness transformed into enjoyment and ultimately, gratitude.  Parents watched and listened as their children exuberantly ‘crushed canola’ and saw for themselves how it’s possible for those tiny black seeds to make clear yellow canola oil.

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“Shaken not stirred”

Youngsters and adults alike enjoyed picking out ingredients to create and customize salad dressing following the simple 2:1:1 ratio – 2 parts canola oil, 1 part acid (vinegar or citrus), 1 part emulsifier (mustard or honey), adding herbs if they wanted to kick the flavour up a notch.

These hands-on activities led to a variety of discussions on food and farming:

  1.   p1170714The patience a farmer needs to wait for the canola to ripen.
  2.  Bees – how they love canola and so many of us love honey.
  3. Half your Plate– how kids custom-creating their own dressings can lead to trying and consuming more salads and veggies.
  4. Canola meal – how the ‘leftovers’ after the oil are crushed and used in livestock feed, and help dairy cows produce more milk.
  5. Baking and cooking – using canola oil to make cakes, cookies, fries or even grilled-cheese.
  6. Ag in the Classroom – some students had done one or both of our activities at their school though AITC but were either anxious to repeat and/or encourage their sibling or parent to do the same.
  7. The variety of Made-In-Manitoba products and booths around us – using honey, jam or beet juice in a dressing. How quinoa can be used instead of greens for a salad and how lucky we are to have so many prairie fruits to add to flavour to our salads in the summer.

ag-expo-portageThe majority who stopped by were genuinely interested in conversation, with many sharing how they use canola oil in their kitchens. This gave me the opportunity to say, “Thank you,” and, “As a canola grower, I appreciate you using a product we grow on our farm.” Something happened in this moment.  A connection was made. Many did a double take, perhaps surprised. When our crops are sold directly to a grain company or processor, there is no contact with the end-user. I’m not sure I’ve ever had the opportunity to directly thank a consumer, but it felt good.

While hosting this booth was a little out of my comfort zone, I’m glad I accepted the opportunity to show, share and connect. It was enjoyable, gratifying and a reminder to express thanks whenever the opportunity presents itself. While I truly value the sentiment behind “Thank a farmer”, appreciation should flow both ways.

So whether you’re a home cook, chef, baker, dietitian or home economist who chooses canola oil, from our farm to your kitchen – thank you.

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Canola field at sunset

It’s Your Ladder

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It’s Your Ladder

It’s your ladder.
Climb at your own pace,
pause to enjoy the view,
keep your footing firm.

It’s your ladder.
Trust in each step,
never fear going higher
or taking a step back.

It’s your ladder.
Let others help steady it,
when you’re wavering,
in need of support.

It’s your ladder.
Look up, look back, look around.
Each rung offers lessons,
meaning, significance.

It’s your ladder.
Make the pattern of ascent
unique to you, your dreams
your aspirations.

It’s your ladder.

Sandi Knight
© 2016

Agvocating – Where do I begin?

Originally published in the November 2016 issue of Canola Digest 


With less than two percent of Canadians living on farms, there is a huge disconnect between food producers and consumers. Surveys show consumers want to learn more. In order to give them credible information, farmers and others in the ag industry need to speak up. Advice and workshops on advocating for agriculture, or ‘agvocating’, has been presented at many farm shows/conferences over the last year.

kevin-folta

CAST photo

Dr. Kevin Folta  is a professor, Chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida and winner of the 2016 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. “Recipients of CAST’s annual award are science/ag experts who demonstrate an ability to communicate through written material, public presentations, and various forms of media.” Folta does it all, and  does it exceptionally well. He speaks across North America and has a strong on-line presence. He offers this advice when discussing agricultural biotechnology with a concerned public.

 

DO:

  • Start with shared values and common concerns. “Like you, I want my kids to eat healthy food.”  “My family lives on the farm. I care about the farm environment. Here’s what I do…”
  •  Have honest conversations about what you know; speak to your strengths.  If you don’t believe it, don’t say it.
  • Disengage when attacks become personal, it is unproductive to continue.
  • Talk about ethics, your experience and your priorities. Remember you cannot fight fear with facts.
  • Sign up for social media accounts – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Follow other agvocates. Even if you don’t create content, you can have a tremendous impact by amplifying others’ messages. ie. share good work, making it more visible.  Signing up also ensures that you have control of your own name.

Don’t:

  •  Use the “feed the world” rhetoric.
  •  Dodge discussions on the limitations of genetic engineering/modification (GM). See Folta’s slide deck for more.
  • Ever claim GM is a single solution. It is not.
  • Discount other production methods or tools. All tools are needed going forward.
  • Discredit other forms of genetic improvement  such as mutagenesis.

Take-A-Way:

We have the safest, most diverse and abundant food supply in history. We also have immediate access to information — good and bad. If we engage incorrectly, we make the  broken lines of communication between consumers, scientists and farmers  worse.

To change the hearts and minds of a concerned public, we need to get involved in the conversation — in person, on-line or both. According to studies farmers are both warm and competent, so sharing our stories is critical to ensure and maintain access to ag innovation for everyone.

p1160076So begin with telling your story, your way. Don’t get bogged down in the science and terminology. Explain how precision plant breeding benefits your farm, the environment and food production.

Read, watch videos, listen to podcasts, learn from others, share their stories and practice telling yours. Remember if you don’t have the answer to someone’s question, it is okay to say, “I’ll look into that and get back to you.” Add your voice to the conversation — everyone’s is needed. If we don’t tell our stories, who will?


Kevin Folta resources:

Other Ag resources:

Fall Silhouette

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Fall Silhouette 

Stark against blue prairie sky
a threadbare tree stands out.
A few dogged leaves hold fast
unwilling to give way to winter.
 They remain united with branches,
 creating striking fall silhouette.

Sandi Knight
© 2005

A Country Halloween

Halloween. It’s a celebration people either love or hate. Their view of this spooky evening may depend on where they live. For people who reside in towns or cities, the night can be hectic and exhausting.

jackolanterns

For those of us in the country, it is generally a much-anticipated night —  a family affair, a chance  to reconnect with neighbours. One parent may stay at home to hand out treats while the other drives the youngsters to all the usual stops in the area. Many take their children to the same houses they went to when they were young. Patience is essential — not necessarily for the drive from house to house, but for the visiting at each stop.

20151031_173533However, the pay-off is worth it. The hand-outs are generous as country homes have so few visitors. “Halloween Bags” are filled with a variety of treats. Some people set the table with a wide assortment of goodies and novelties; youngsters are invited in to choose what they like. Apples and home baking are still acceptable as Halloween treats – safety is not a concern.

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When children decide they are too old to go trick-or-treating, treats are sent home for them with their younger siblings. Even parents get in on the act, their pockets filled at the end of the evening, at the neighbours’ insistence, of course.

If both parents accompany the trick-or-treaters, bags or bowls of goodies are left at their own home for the neighbourhood children to help themselves. Trust is not an issue.

pumpkins-backdoorHalloween displays are always drawing cards. Even if fewer than a dozen youngsters come to the door, many still enjoy decorating. Scarecrows greet you at the end of lanes. Pumpkins and gourds are set amidst bales and cornstalks; ghosts hang from trees. Witches sit in rocking chairs carefully guarding the door. Rigged doorbells or knockers cause Halloween creatures to shake or elicit ghostly laughter. Jack o’ lanterns of all shapes and sizes line driveways and doorsteps. Children return year after year  just to see their favourite Halloween haunts.

witchSome adults never outgrow this night of pranks. Many dress in costume to greet their young guests. Others wait until they are sure no more trick-or-treaters will be stopping by, then rummage through their ‘tickle trunks’, pick out appropriate attire, and head out to stir up a bit of fun with the neighbours.

carlee-catThankfully, a country Halloween is still enjoyable. It brings back fond childhood memories. Parents  drive down gravel roads through mud, rain, sleet or snow. Manners are important. “Trick-or-Treat” is always followed by a thank you. Tricks, if played, are neither harmful nor destructive. It is an evening of reminiscing and laughter. And when the doorbell rings, children are greeted with an enthusiasm. “It’s so good to see you! Thanks for stopping by!”

Happy Halloween!

 

Refueling with the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference

mfwc-fuel-the-pulse

Given the challenges this year’s growing season and on-going harvest have thrown our way, perhaps the Manitoba Farm Women’s Conference (MFWC) is exactly what you need to recharge. “Fuel the Pulse” is this year’s theme. The 30th Annual MFWC will be held in Portage la Prairie November 20th – 22nd.

Speakers and sessions will cover a wide variety of topics on how we ‘fuel’ ourselves, our homes, our businesses and our communities. It is an opportunity to learn personal and business skills, to be inspired and motivated by both presenters and other farm women. But the benefits go far beyond learning.

These two days offer the opportunity to relax. No job to go to, no meals to make, no errands to run. You wake in the morning and have only yourself to get ready. Obligations are briefly forgotten. Your entire day is planned – no worrying or rushing required. This brief reprieve from our daily routines may even have a holiday-like feel.

friends-2It’s a time to renew old friendships and make new connections. You are surrounded by like-minded people who support and encourage each other. Everyone understands farming and cares deeply about agriculture. The desire to learn and explore new ventures is also renewed. Most of us leave the conference with at least one new idea to implement in our lives.

Time away provides perspective. Inspiration is found. Confidence is built. We are reminded that success does not come to anyone without hard work, mistakes and struggles. But laughter is always a part of the conference too, a wonderful, and often much needed, stress reliever.

These positive side effects, along with the program sessions and speakers, are a benefit to all who attend. They contribute to our well-being, and therefore to the well-being of our families, businesses and communities.

mfwc-logoFor me, it is always worth making time to attend. The learning, laughter, support and encouragement never fail to give me a much appreciated morale boost. I hope to see you there as we “Fuel the Pulse” and re-fuel ourselves.

 


Meet and Greet is Sunday, November 20th at 7 p.m. Conference begins Monday, November 21st at 8:45 a.m. and runs through to Tuesday, November 22nd at 3:30 p.m. Both full and individual day registration are available. 

Online registration has been extended to November 13, 2016