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Food for Fungus Fans
The mushrooms we carry at HGOF come to us from Leonard North at Valley Mushrooms. Conventional button mushrooms and crimini mushrooms both come from the agaricus family of mushrooms. Agaricus mushrooms grow in manure and are often sprayed heavily with pesticides. Because mushrooms are a fungus, they are grown in ideal fungus growing conditions. This warm, dark, humid environment is also optimum for bugs and other types of contaminating fungi. Unlike oyster mushrooms, crimini mushrooms look a lot like conventional button mushrooms, and they may be used in a similar way. They have a dark-coloured cap that ranges from light tan to rich brown in colour. They are earthier, meatier and more intensely flavored than their cousin, the button. For maximum shelf life, store your mushrooms in the fridge in a brown paper bag. They should be eaten within five days after delivery for maximum flavor. If you have never tried an oyster mushrooms before, the entire mushroom is edible.

Quinoa: The Mother of All Grains
In the Quechua language of the Inca Indians, quinoa means "mother."It was considered sacred by the Incas because it is a near perfect food and because of the plantís heartiness.

During colonization, the Spanish conquistadors nearly wiped it out along with other aspects of Incan culture, failing to see how vitally useful it is. Today, it is being "rediscovered" because it contains many of the vitamins and minerals that can be elusive in a vegetarian diet like iron, protein, B vitamins and calcium.

Surprisingly, the quinoa plant isnít actually a member of the grain or grass families. It is part of the goosefoot family, related to beets, spinach and chard. The "grain" we eat is the seed, which might explain why it is so packed with nutrients. But donít eat it because itís good for you: Eat it because it is good! Kids love the little spirals that pop out of the swollen cooked grain.

To cook, bring 2 parts water and 1 part quinoa to a boil, cover & let simmer for about 30 minutes. Use anytime you would serve rice or barley.

Spelt and Kamut: Ancient Grains for the New Palate
As you may have noticed, Home Grown Organic Foods offers a number of products made with alternative flours like spelt and kamut. While Agriculture Canada considers these two flours too close to wheat to be labeled "wheat-free" many people who cannot tolerate wheat for a variety of reasons find both kamut and spelt to be acceptable substitutes in their diets. For those of us who are not allergic to wheat though, there are a variety of reasons to turn to these ancient grains: Over the past hundred years, through hybridization, the number of chromosomes in wheat has tripled.
Many feel this change has resulted in both a less nutritious and more difficult to digest wheat. It lacks a few proteins and vitamins it contained at the turn of the century. Kamut contains 40 per cent more protein and 65 per cent more amino acids than wheat today, while spelt ranks higher in minerals, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, iron and proteins. Doctors and naturopaths are recommending spelt in the diets of women who are at greater risk for breast cancer because of its higher content of B vitamins. Ecologically, both these grains are better adapted to the Canadian growing season, requiring neither pesticides nor fertilizers: They are an ideal organic crop, largely ignored by larger commercial growers!

Talking Couscous
While couscous is ranked with whole grains like buckwheat and quinoa for its nutritive qualities, it is in fact, tiny granules of pasta. Specifically, couscous is the endosperm of the wheat kernel, semolina, which is used to make most of the pasta we buy. Used predominately in West African cooking, its name comes from the method used to cook it. In Morocco, a couscousiŤre, or large covered pot with a lower compartment in which a stew or broth cooks and an upper portion with a pierced bottom in which the couscous steams. Along with vitamin E, couscous contains ferulic acid, lignans, and other antioxidant compounds that help protect against cancer. It is high in fiber with twice as much as an equal portion of oatmeal. To prepare, bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil, pour over 1 cup of couscous, stirring slightly. Let it sit with a lid for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and enjoy! Try couscous for breakfast with a little grated orange peel, and your favorite milk. Both couscous and all our soy milks are on sale right now, so be sure to check the specials page.

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