UnReFiNeD

February 13, 2010

A few Words on Oils and Fruits

A few words on using oil:

It’s been a while since I decided to keep the use of oil to a minimum. I only use extra virgin olive oil and once in a while extra virgin coconut oil, but because they’re virgin, they have low heat points, which means they aren’t great for cooking with – It breaks down the oil, making it not as nice tasting, and I’ve heard a lot about how it can let out carcinogens.  So I don’t use oil in my baked goods anymore, and I “healthy saute” my veggies over the stovetop with a bit of broth instead. Sometimes I’ll add in “raw” olive oil to salad dressings and dips, or coconut oil to truffles and treats, otherwise it’s rare. I know oil often makes things taste better or fuller, but it’s not a whole food, it can be potentially dangerous by being highly processed and cooked at high temperatures, and it’s really just calories and fats.

Also, a few words on fruits concerning teeth:

Many of you have heard how lemon juice can eat away at the enamel on our teeth so it’s best to rinse with water after eating or drinking something with lots of lemon juice, but this applies to most fruits, and is of concern to those who eat lots of fruit and snack throughout the day. I have read some information on how the constant contact of fruit, as well at sticky starchy and nutty foods, on teeth will deteriorate them if not rinsed or flossed out soon afterwards. I’ve also heard a handful of raw foodists who have issues with this. I guess the best way to deal with it would be to rinse and/or floss afterwards, and/or eating a little more and a little less often. Also, I came to realize an excellent remedy for those who are smoothie fanatics: Straws! By drinking your smoothie with a straw, you give your teeth less of a chance to come in contact with the fruits in your smoothies. I like eating my smoothies with a spoon though…

But in order to get you excited, here’s a giveaway you can participate in to get a certificate for some neat glass straws! Check out Just Audrey’s Giveaway. It’s for Glass Dharma straws. Although I haven’t bought from them, I think they are really neat! Simple and elegant, eco-friendly, non toxic-leeching with a lifetime guarantee.

December 17, 2009

Mexican Markets

Finally, a post about the Mexican markets! And I have pictures too, but not as many or as good of pictures as I’d like… It’s hard getting good pictures of markets! All those pictured are located in San Cristobal de las Casas.

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The markets are lots of fun to go to. They vary depending where you go, some being really chaotic like the big one in Merida. Some people have stalls, others have little bowls on a rag on the ground outdoors. Some have trucks loaded with one type of produce. You can find all kinds of produce, most local and fresh, and they are usually similar in price from one stall to another. Fruits are often sold in little or medium sized buckets, usually with a 5 peso or 10 peso price to them. I don’t know how much bargaining happens, but it doesn’t seem like there’s much. I’m sure there’s a difference between locals and travelers though, but I haven’t the guts to really try it out yet. I think I’ve bargained three times so far – 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 tie. Sometimes the vendor throws in a couple extra gratis. Even without bargaining, the prices are still good, and sometimes you find really great deals, like 8 ripe avocados for 5 pesos (roughly 43 Canadian cents), a whole bucket of gorgeous little baby potatoes for 8 pesos, and papaya for 3.5 pesos / kilogram (roughly 3.5-7 pesos each). Of course, the markets have fresher produce than the big grocery stores, but sometimes you can get good deals there too. Yesturday I found cantaloupes (Don’t call them that here, the locals will look at you funny – They’re called melon chino) for 4 pesos / kilogram. Honestly though, even though cantaloupes seem to be plentiful in Chiapas, they aren’t good. It’s not that they taste bad, but they’re very very bland. I’m disappointed… Bland cantaloupes, mangos are out of season, but at least the bananas are delicious and plentiful and come in a variety of types!

What kind of exotic produce have I been able to find at the markets? I can’t mention that many because there are still many that I’m really unfamiliar with, but I’ll tell you of the ones I recently came across. Jicama is a root vegetable, looks like a brown tuber and it’s hard, but easy to cut. You cut the skin off, and chop the vegetable like fries. Serve raw with carrots and other veggies to go with a dip, or garnish with lime juice and chili/salt (like for everything else in Mexico!). It’s very tasty for a vegetable. As for bananas, I have tried the usual most popular type, the red (smaller, slightly different texture, a bit of a raspberry flavor, delicious aftertaste), and the plantain, which comes close to nothing compared to the gross ones in Canada. Same goes for the baby bananas, they seem much much tastier here. And the beans! Mmm, fresh beans in a rainbow of colors, a bowl for 10 pesos is usually the price, and they are delicious! If you leave them for a few days they start to sprout, which may or may not be what you want, but they are great.

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I have no idea what this is, but it’s good. The inside is kind of like a pomegranate (I think – I’ve only had pomegranate once before…) except the seeds are super fun to eat. They’re really srunchy but not at all annoying, and the flavor is fun. As soon as it touches your lips it has a certain flavor, then once you start chewing it, it has another.

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I believe this is called ¨Tuna¨. We’ve tried the green one in Canada before, so we decided to try the red one here. I was really surprised by the beet-red color of the interior, but the flavor didn’t appeal to me at all.

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It was great to be able to buy fresh beans. Here’s some little red ones we bought. Once cooked, they turned into a rather bright purple. Mixed with rice and vegetables, it looked pretty crazy!

I’ll eventually get more pictures of the markets. We are headed down to the Pacific coast soon, so we should see some new stuff there. ‘Till then!

October 21, 2009

Where to Buy Fruits & Veggies in Quebec

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this! By far, Sami Fruits is my favorite store to buy produce. There’s one in Laval and a couple of them in Montreal, and I seriously recommend all those who live nearby to go check them out! In those big square cold buildings are piles and piles of fruit and veggies… Sure, the stores are not as pretty and warm as an IGA, but the prices of fruits and vegetables is as low as it can get… and I’m not talking about rotting produce either! These are delicious, ready fruits and vegetables, and those that Are super ripe get sold in packages for 1$-1.50$ each. You will not believe the amount you will save on produce if you shop here… Careful going there on a weekend though, it’s packed and fast-paced. But don’t go on a Tuesday! That’s when they’re closed…

Here are some price examples from Sami Fruits:
Bananas 39¢/lb (No green or ripe bananas, they’re always yellow without spots!)
Tomatoes 59¢-89¢/lb (They’re often the ones that don’t have a true hard middle but lots of random swirls inside, which are great)
Pears 79¢/lb (Delicious)
Mangos 3 for 2$ (Absolutely fabulous, but I don’t like the big green ones they sell, personally… Right now you can get a box of 13 mangoes for 5$! I couldn’t resist, I carried it 1/2 hour back home by bike)
Cantaloupe 3 for 5$ (Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they kinda stay hard)
Lettuce 59¢-79¢ each (Make sure you wash ‘em, but they’re great)
Avocados 2 for 1$ (If you’re lucky, you can get a pack of 8 ripe avocados for 1.50$- A ridiculously low price for so many produce calories)

Another place I love to go to when I want to purchase local produce is the 440 Marche (440 Market); The one that’s actually on the 440 highway. There is a wonderful selection of fruits and vegetables, enjoy samples, and the market is connected to a fabulous food mall with all kinds of stores and restaurants inside such as produce, butcher, bakery, beautiful pizzas, and a health food store.

As for health food stores, my favorite in Laval so far is Marche Tau. It’s big, and has good prices. Address is 3188 Boulvard St-Martin Ouest (Chomedy) #450-978-5533

It just so happens that Sami Fruits, Marche Tau, and Loblaws (decent health food section) are all within walking distance from each other (they’re basically on the same street block!). So if you’re in the area, go wild! =)

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