Maple Quinoa Salad

With spring’s arrival the desire for quick and easy make-ahead meals increases. This whole-grain quinoa salad fits the bill, plus it incorporates one of my favourite flavours — maple! 

I use locally grown “Prairie Quinoa” along with Manitoba maple syrup produced in our area.  An excellent salad to add to your meal-prep repertoire!  

Maple Quinoa Salad

Main Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 6 -8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup kernel corn (frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans, walnuts or almonds, chopped

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Directions:

Place water, quinoa and 1 tbsp maple syrup in medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover pot, reduce heat and simmer for 15—20 minutes until cooked through.  Remove the saucepan from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork and let sit 5 —10 minutes.  Cool completely and transfer to a serving bowl.

While quinoa is cooling prepare peppers, green onions, corn, black beans and nuts.  Whisk together apple cider vinegar, canola oil and maple syrup.

Add veggies, beans, nuts and vinaigrette to cooled quinoa. Toss well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Show. Share. Connect.

2016-07-05-13-09-39

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.

2016-06-30-20-29-34

Canola field at sunset

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

If you are looking for a hearty, healthy, flavourful, pumpkin muffin recipe — this is it!  Perfect for breakfast, snacks and dessert too! These muffins are family favourite and always a welcome addition to university care packages.

 Adapted from a recipe found on food.com several years ago. 

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 – 398 ml can of pumpkin puree (1 2/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole barley flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3  cup mini-chocolate chips

Directions:

  1.   Pre-heat oven to 375°F (190ºC)
  2.   Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin with large parchment baking cups.
  3.   Whisk together canola oil, sugar and eggs.
  4.    Fold in pumpkin puree and milk; mix thoroughly.
  5.   In separate large bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda,     salt, spices and mini-chocolate chips. 
  6.   Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stir just to combine.
  7.   Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the mixture evenly into    the muffin liners.
  8.   Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until toothpick or cake tester inserted into the     center of a muffin comes out clean.
  9.   Set tins on cooling rack for 5 min. before removing muffins to cool    completely.

Notes:

  • Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin pie.
  • Check out the amazing health benefits of barley flour here.
  • Don’t have any  barley or whole wheat flour? Substitute with all-purpose flour.
  • Feel free to switch out the mini-chocolate chips with raisins or nuts.

Storage:

Can be stored in a covered container for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. If the kids are home or company drops by, you likely won’t have to worry about that though…

Eggless Double-Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Short on eggs and long on zucchini? This cake is for you! It’s that time of year when either your garden, or your neighbour’s,  is overflowing with this popular, prolific squash.  My family loves this moist, delicious, easy-to-make cake.  After all, who doesn’t like turning a vegetable into chocolate? Sounds like a super-power to me! 

Eggless Double-Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk *
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 tbsp natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1.    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  2.    Grease 9 X 13 pan or line with parchment paper.
  3.    In large bowl, mix canola oil and sugar.
  4.    Add milk, grated zucchini and vanilla. Stir well.
  5.    In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and chocolate chips.
  6.    Add to zucchini mixture.  Batter will be thick.
  7.    Spread evenly in pan. Bake 25 – 35 minutes, until toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8.   Let cool completely before serving.

Storage:

Can be kept in a covered container for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Notes:

*Buttermilk substitute – add 1 tbsp vinegar to milk (at least 1% milk fat).

Want to preserve excess squash for later use? Simply measure out desired amount of grated zucchini (2 cups for this recipe), pack in freezer bags, date and label. Keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

 

 

Innovation in Oil

Originally published January 2016 in Canola Digest


Three Manitoba canola growers are bottling and marketing canola oil with flavour characteristics unique to their own farms.  As grapes produce different flavour subtleties in wine based on their “terroir” – a  French word that covers soil, topography and climate – so does canola from different regions produce slightly different oil.

Photo courtesy of MCGA

Photo courtesy of MCGA

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) and the Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network Inc. (MAHRN) are studying virgin, cold-pressed canola oil, meal and co-products from processing as part of a Canadian Climate Advantage Diet (CCAD) project funded by Growing Forward II.  The three-year $396,000 project is looking at how the interaction between plant genetics and local growing conditions impacts the nutritional profile, flavour characteristics and end-use qualities of Manitoba-grown canola.  MCGA has contributed $10,000 to the project with a goal of adding value and finding innovative uses for Manitoba-grown and processed canola. The venture addresses the keen interest consumers have in local food, ‘terroir’ and virgin cold-pressed oils.

The three farmers involved to date are:  Brian Chorney of East Selkirk, Jack Froese of Winkler and Larry Bohdanovich of Grandview. They all grow the same variety but, surprisingly, the look, taste and even the nutritional profile of each oil is different. The East Selkirk Vintage has a higher iron content. The Grandview oil has a higher vitamin A number, is the strongest in flavour and has the deepest gold colour. Variations also exist in the percentage of crude oil extracted (33.9 – 39.5%) and clarified oil recovered (68.14 – 69.5%).  East Selkirk has the highest rates.  (Note that cold-pressing cannot extract as much oil from the seed, resulting in a high-oil meal.)

Photo courtesy of MCGA

Photo courtesy of MCGA

These unique, cold-pressed oils were test marketed at both the retail and food service level with highly favourable results. They are being embraced for salad oils, drizzles and a Canadian-grown alternative to extra-virgin olive oil.

The 2015 Vintages, prominently labeled with each growing area, will be available in early 2016 at five Winnipeg Red River Coops as well as the Winkler Co-op. These new virgin canola oils are also part of the Buy Manitoba Program. Such distinctive specialty oils demand a premium and sell at 20 times the price of conventional canola oil.

The long-term goal of this project is to develop on-farm enterprises and small and medium-sized business product lines. “It’s always exciting to see innovation in agriculture and Manitoba canola growers are definitely excited about growing future prospects for canola in Manitoba,” says Ellen Pruden, education and promotions manager with MCGA.

DEFINITIONS

Terroir (ter-war):   A term most often associated with grapes and wine, this is the special set of characteristics expressed in agricultural products when the geography, geology and climate of a location interacts with plant genetics. As a result of this project, we now know terroir exists in Manitoba-grown canola.

Cold-pressed oils:   Obtained by mechanically pressing and grinding the seed at a slow speed. Cooling methods are in place to ensure the temperature does not exceed 60 C during this process.