Farmers Market Challenge: They Stung Me!

Did you know that by soaking your nuts, seeds, and grains, it makes them active, frees them from their less nutritional, dormant state, and releases them into a far superior, easy-to-digest state? I had NO idea! Sure, my Oh She Glows cookbook told me to do this overnight with my goji berries, pumpkin seeds, and almonds before plopping them into my morning oatmeal, but I didn’t know why, I just did it. This, my friends, is called sprouting.

And I learned all about it at the last New Westminster Farmers’ Market!

Monika Serwa, founder of Growing Fresh, a company that produces organic, raw, vegan snacks in a certified organic, home-based kitchen, gave me an enthusiastic lesson in clean eating. She does not believe in grains; they are not real food, she said. Instead, she uses sprouted buckwheat seeds, which come from the rhubarb family, in her granolas. She uses fresh fruits, dried fruits, and fresh fruit juices as sweeteners in her products, no refined sugars. None of her products are cooked above 46˚C in an effort to preserve their nutrients and living enzymes. And the purpose of sprouting is to remove enzyme inhibitors that may compromise digestion and nutrient absorption.

That may sound like a mouthful for some, but when your mouth is being offered up sample after sample of pumpkin pie granola, and chocoroons, and uber beer snacks, and flax crax, you listen.

Market Loot:

• Growing Fresh:

– 1 bag of Pumpkin Pie Granola $8

• Your Wildest Foods:

– 1/2 lb bag of fresh stinging nettles!!! $5.50

– 1/2 lb bag of organic oyster mushrooms $4

• Bob Ali Hummus:

-1 container dill/tarragon hummus $6

• Ossome Acres:         

-1 container sunflower shoots $2.50

• Wild Westcoast Seafoods

-1 lb tuna $15

Total spent: $46

Yes folks, you read correctly, I bought fresh stinging nettles. The same kinds of stinging nettles that stung the heck out of me nearly every day I lived on a farm as a kid. I swear those suckers targeted me the second I walked out the door. And I was not the kind of kid to leave them be – I rubbed at the instant pain, and then scratched the bloody hell out of my arms and legs from morning to night. Seriously, I was head to toe stinging nettle scabs for about five years!

Fearing the nettles

But the thing is, spring has arrived, and with spring comes allergies. Ever since having my son in 2012 I have been riddled with allergies. Last year was the worst. I spent from March to July with a stuffed head. Word on the street is stinging nettles is the perfect remedy, a natural histamine that easily combats the pollen in the air.

The wild nettle tops were young spring shoots that were foraged in Hope. Nettles are full of nutrients including vitamin C, A, K, iron and magnesium, a powerhouse combination that has been associated with alleviating joint pain and stimulating digestion. It was suggested I cook them like spinach and throw them in a quiche, or eat them raw in a smoothie, or as the main ingredient in pesto. With the help of Pinterest, I made an earthy-flavoured nettle tea, which was really fun when I added lemon to the mix and turned the tea a shade of pink. I also made a yam-nettle soup. This is where the nettles and I went into all-out battle mode. The nettles won. Despite putting on my husband’s heavy duty gardening gloves, those suckers managed to get their stinging chemicals into my thumb – it stung, it grew numb, I did not like that version of memory lane. But fear not folks, I got my revenge: the soup was super tasty and those nettles went in my belly!

Nettle soup: I used salad tongs to get those raw nettles on the wooden spoon.

We also purchased a half pound of fresh, oyster mushrooms, a variety that we don’t commonly see in the grocery stores. We contemplated throwing them into pasta, or making a pizza featuring them, but in the end, we just wanted to eat them. Onto the barbecue with olive and sea salt they went. The dinner talk the first night we had them was all about oyster mushrooms. The flavour and texture was so beyond what we’re used to with button mushrooms. Plus, they just looked really cool.

Our market adventure was finalized with a trip through the Wild Westcoast Seafoods truck. I was with my four-year-old and husband. As soon as we walked in, my son was like a broken record player: “yum-yum-yum-yum-yum-…”

Needless to say, the Bartels love their fish.

Tuna!!!!!

Happy marketing!!!