Getting Healthy from the Ground Up!


Beautiful herbs, for culinary use and medicine.

Not only do herbs add flavor to our food, herbs are also a wonderful, natural medicine. Let’s look at the four most common herbs grown in gardens today. Oregano, Rosemary, Basil, and Thyme.

Oregano tastes wonderful in spaghetti sauce, pizza, stews, and soups, but did you know if you take a handful of fresh leaves and pour boiling water over them it makes a wonderful tea for anyone suffering from a cold? Oregano has anti-bacterial  qualities that inhibit the growth of bacteria. It is also a powerful antioxidant as it contains many phytonutrients including thymol and rosmarinic acid, both of which prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures all throughout our bodies. All of this and it is a good source of fiber and a wonderful source of vitamins!

Oregano is a perennial herb which means it will continue to grow yearly. It is sometimes touted as the world’s healthiest food!

Fresh oregano is preferable to the dried as it has more flavor. It is also easy to grow and propagate annually. 

Rosemary is well known to boost memory and improve one’s  mood, it also reduces inflammation, relieves pain, Is a protector of the immune system, It stimulates circulation, helps detoxify the body and helps  protect the body from bacterial infections,

Rosemary is full of flavor and aroma, but it is also a wealth of beneficial health effects if you add it regularly to your diet. Just the aroma of rosemary alone has been known to reduce stress and improve memory. Rosemary is also an excellent breath freshener, just steep some leaves in a cup of hot water then gargle and swish to eliminate bacteria and give yourself the freshest breath!

H. pylori bacteria is the bacteria that can cause stomach ulcers, but studies show that rosemary has been shown to prevent its growth when consumed. Rosemary is also linked to preventing Staph infections.

Rosemary is slightly diuretic in nature, so it can help flush toxins out of your body more efficiently during urination.

Most recipes call for rosemary leaves, which can be easily removed from the stem, by gripping the stem and running your fingers down it. You can even add the whole sprig to season your soups and stews. 

Use fresh or dried rosemary in eggs, use it to season chicken and lamb, even add it to butter or oil for a fresh dipping sauce for bread.

Basil Baby! If you only buy a few herbs, basil should be one of them. Its fragrant essence combines well with other herbs like rosemary and thyme. Basil provides the body with vitamin A, which contains beta-carotenes, these are powerful antioxidants that protect the cells lining, as well as a number of other body structures, including blood vessels, from free radical damage. This preventative measure keeps cholesterol in blood from oxidizing, helping to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and stroke.

Basil is wonderful in meat dishes, with fish, vegetables, soup, eggs, and even cheese. It is one of the main ingredients in pesto, along with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Basil is one of my favorites herbs because it has so many uses. Everything from soups to sandwiches is simply better with the addition of its fresh, full-flavored leaves. It also contains oils and flavonoids that protect the body from illness and infection. Very small concentrations can kill harmful bacteria, but still be very beneficial, even preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and stroke.

Basil is known to help with asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Basil is also a good source of magnesium, which we all need more of since the soil has become so depleted. Magnesium promotes cardiovascular health by helping muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow.

Thyme is an evergreen shrub that has been used in medicinal and culinary applications for thousands of years.

It has one of the highest antioxidant concentrations in any herb, thyme has been praised for thousands of years as an overall health booster. The antioxidants in thyme eliminate free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals are dangerous to your healthy cells by causing spontaneous mutation.  Antioxidants like these help to prevent oxidative stress in all of your organ systems, and neural pathways, also your heart, eyes, and skin.

Thyme has a high concentration of iron making it ideal for the production of red blood cells,

Circulation: The high concentration of iron and other essential minerals in thyme make it ideal for stimulating the production of red blood cells, thereby boosting your body’s circulations and the oxygenation of essential organ systems and extremities throughout the body.

Heart Health: All of the antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins in thyme have many small effects on the heart, but the potassium and manganese are particularly important. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can reduce the stress on the cardiovascular system by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. This can extend your life by preventing atherosclerosis and avoiding strokes, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease.

Vision Booster: With carotenoids and vitamin A that are found in thyme, it is no wonder that it makes it an effective antioxidant agent for your eye health. Carotenoids can neutralize the free radicals in your ocular system and slow the onset of macular degeneration and prevent cataracts!

Immune System: Vitamin C is abundantly found in sage making it a natural immune booster. It stimulates the production of white blood cells, Your body’s first line of defense. Vitamin C also plays a crucial part in the production of collagen, which is essential for the creation and repair of cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.

Reduce Stress: Vitamin B6 helps certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are linked to stress hormones. Implementing thyme in your diet can help to boost your mood and ease your stress.

Respiratory Issues: One of the most well known and long-standing uses for thyme in traditional medicine is as a respiratory health agent. If you are suffering from bronchitis, chronic asthma, congestion, colds, flus, blocked sinuses, or seasonal allergies, thyme acts as an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory substance, eliminating phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tracts, easing inflammation to help breathing, and prevent microbial development that can lead to illness. Thyme leaf tea is a powerful tonic for respiratory ailments.

A Final Word of Warning: For those with sensitive stomachs, high intake of thyme can cause gastrointestinal distress, but generally, this herb is not known as an allergenic substance and can be consumed regularly in your diet.

So there are four ways for you to get not only wonderful flavouring for your food but a little medicine that will go a long way!

Jiaozi, aka: Chinese Dumplings


We are celebrating the chinese new year over here at #VFVY and we want to share our favorite recipe! These tender morsels of deliciousness are way too good to keep to yourself, although you may want to!

If you are just into eating them and not into all the work it takes to make them, then may I suggest “So Inviting”. This little take out food shop located at 876 Dundas St,  in East London, Ontario  is amazing. You have the option to pick up some ready made potstickers or dumplings and eat them straight away, or you can always take some frozen ones home and make them up to share… either way they are So Delicious! You can check out their menu and pricing on their facebook page here:

If you are like me and want to make or even recreate these beautiful bite sized morsels, then read on my friends! This is going to be delicious!

Let’s begin with the Dumpling wrappers. You can purchase these in the refrigerator section of most asian markets and even some supermarkets, but you can make them yourself. Dumpling wrappers are also called gyoza or potsticker wrappers. They are thin sheets of dough made with flour and water.

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Jiaozi, aka: Chinese Dumplings





  1. Dough Preparation: To a large bowl, measure in the flour and the salt. Pour in the boiled water and stir the flour until the flour resembles loose crumbles. Pour in the cold water. Stir again until a shaggy dough begins to form. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes, tll everything is mixed well. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. The dough should be soft and elastic. Continue to knead your dough for another 3-5 minutes. Place the dough into a bowel, cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 20 minutes while you prepare the filling and the dipping sauce.

  2. The middle: In a bowl, mix the shredded cabbage with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside while you move on to next step of recipe.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix the ground meat with soy sauce, ground pepper, rice wine and sesame oil. Add in the chives.

  4. Back to the cabbage - grab a handful of cabbage, squeeze hard to expel the water into the sink. Add the dry cabbage into the bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients. Mix well.

  5. Making the potstickers: Turn out the rested dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half, keep unused half under the damp towel to prevent from drying out. Roll out the other half into a long snake, about 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Cut into approximately 20 even pieces. Take 1 piece, roll between palms to form ball. Squash between flat palms to flatten into disk. Use rolling pin to roll out to 3-1/2 inch diameter. Repeat for remaining dough. Fill and fold potstickers. Place folded potstickers on a floured piece of parchment.

  6. The Sauce: Mix together dipping sauce ingredients. Set aside until ready to serve.

  7. Cooking your potstickers: Heat a pan over medium heat, add potstickers, place lid on. Once they have browned on the bottom, add a ¼ cup of water, return lid to top and steam for 4- 6 minutes.

  8. Take out of pan and serve with dipping sauce.

  9. Enjoy!

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The Great Shellfish Cookbook by Matt Dean Pettit!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for my review and the options in this blog are mine all mine. I was given a review copy of this cookbook from Penguin Random house Canada.

I received a wonderful cookbook from Penguin house! It’s called the Great Shellfish Cookbook, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I have always wondered what it takes to cook wonderful seafood dishes and Matty delivers just that! Wonderful seafood dishes with an explosion of taste.

If you are looking to diversify your repertoire of seafood recipes look no further! This cookbook contains all you need to know about purchasing ,cooking preparing and storing shellfish.

The recipes are diverse and the pictures are beautiful. I went from knowing very little to feeling very confident with preparing shellfish for my guests. Matt does a wonderful job introducing home cooks to the wonderful world of shellfish, a must have for anyone curious about cooking shellfish.

I made the Lobster and Shrimp Ceviche, this recipe is light and simple to make, delicious and so refreshing! I had no idea that citrus juice would actually cook the seafood! What a great idea, that way the meat never gets over cooked. I used less cilantro in this recipe as I am not a huge fan, but didn’t want to leave it completely out as it lend to the flavor of this dish.

“Excerpted from The Great Shellfish Cookbook: From Sea to Table More than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home by Matt Dean Pettit. Copyright © 2018 Matt Dean Pettit. Photography copyright © 2018 Ksenija Hotic. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.”


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Lobster and Shrimp Ceviche
  1. The key to a great ceviche is to always use the freshest ingredients possible. I love how fresh seafood smells just like ocean air and the sea! When I traveled to Chile, I visited a town on the coast called Viña del Mar. It was there that I had the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted. It’s been my goal to recreate that dish, and I think I’m very close!
  2. If using live lobster, place it in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes to put it into a catatonic state. Using a sharp knife, pierce directly through the top of the lobster’s head (this will kill it instantly) and run the knife down through the center of the lobster’s body to split it into two. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, remove the meat and rinse it thoroughly under cold, running water. Finely chop the lobster meat. If using thawed, frozen lobster tails, remove the meat and finely chop it.
  3. Roughly chop the shrimp.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the lobster meat, shrimp, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, citrus juices, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste to combine the flavors and allow the citrus to cook the meat. Cover the bowl tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The lobster and shrimp will be opaque and firm.
  5. Remove the bowl from refrigerator and drain off any liquid. Serve the ceviche with tortilla chips, or use Bibb lettuce to make lettuce wraps.
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Fresh Baked Bread

MMM… is there anything more delicious than the delightful smell of freshly baked bread wafting out of your kitchen? That smells reminds me fondly of my childhood when my mother would bake 8 loaves at a time!

So delicious and heartwarming, I couldn’t wait to get a fresh piece and have that warm butter melt all over it!


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Sourdough French bread
Sourdough bread is nutritious and delicious! It contains higher levels of folate and antioxidants than other breads. It’s lower phytate levels allows your body to absorb the nutrients more easily. It also contains lower amounts of gluten and because it is fermented, it contains probiotic and prebiotic properties that are known to be excellent for your gut health. With all these benefits and so many applications what are you waiting for? why not make your sourdough starter today?
Cuisine Sourdough Bread
Keyword french bread
Cuisine Sourdough Bread
Keyword french bread
  1. In a cup, melt the butter in the hot water and add and dissolve the sugar. Let cool to lukewarm.
  2. Add the starter and the yeast.
  3. Blend in two cups of flour so that you have a sticky well combined mixture.
  4. Stir in next two cups of flour and the salt. This should be enough for firm dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead thoroughly.
  6. Place in a well buttered bowl and let rise til double in size.
  7. Punch dough down and let rise again for 30 minutes.
  8. Turn dough out onto floured surface, let rest 10 mins.
  9. Shape into loaf.
  10. Let the loaf rise again until doubled.
  11. Place in preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes.
  12. You can slash the bread with a very sharp knife or razor just prior to putting into oven if desired. If the utensil is very sharp the bread will not fall.
  13. For a shiny crust, blend and egg white with a tablespoon of water and brush several times during baking.
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Awesome Acorns

Oh, nuts! 

So I went for a hike with one of my girlfriends in the fall and we came across a mighty oak, and it got me thinking about acorns and all the things we can do with them.  Every now and then I need to get out of the city, enjoy the cool fall air and get back in touch with nature. Ah, so nice.

We are going hiking, because not only is hiking wonderful for you, (see how hiking can change your brain in this article here:

But also to forage for some nuts and possible apples or crab apples.

How can you eat acorns you ask? Well that is exactly what I was wondering this morning so I thought I would do some research on the topic and find out what I need to do to ‘cure’ them so they are edible, how I need to store them for future use and of course what new thing I can make from these lovely little nuts.

Well, I found a wonderful article that not only shows how to get our little acorns ready for eating but also shares what you can do with the tannic acid as well! I do love things that use all parts!

In this article from Outdoorlife, you will also find recipes for roasted acorns, acorn brittle and bread, and acorn cookies! MMM.. these sound delish.

I can’t wait to go hiking to get back in touch with nature and to forage a little so I can come back and make one of the wonderful recipes above.

So what is so wonderful about acorns and why would we want to forage for them?

Well they are a wonderful source of natural vitamins and minerals such as

The tannin’s in the acorns can be saved and used as an astringent for your skin. Use it to soothe burns, scratches, and bites.

Acorns are high in fiber which improves digestion and gastric distress. Fiber keeps things moving along just like we need it too. We also know that adding nuts to your diet is a wonderful way to get some healthy protein that no one has to die for.

Yay nuts! Let’s go get some!


My favorite food and why

I am food obsessed. I love the texture, the nutrients, the taste. Mother nature is so clever to put all the things we need to keep our bodies healthy right inside all of our food. Nutritious and delicious food.

My favorite food is something I can hold in my hand. Little bite sized morsels of deliciousness!

Tapas, horderves, finger foods… whatever you call them, I call them wonderful.

Why do I love them you ask? Well,fingers were made before forks after all!

Food is not simply stuff that people eat when their hungry. Food is awesome, delicious, inventive, colorful, inspiring, and so much more. A mutual love of food can bring different people together and can make the saddest person feel a little better without even meaning to. I love food and think you should too

Here are some reasons why I love food

It brings people together

Let’s you explore other cultures without travelling the globe

It’s social

It makes any party better

It shows people you care

Inspires creativeness

Makes you feel good

Tastes great!

Here is one of my favorites…..



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  1. 1. Cut off top rind of Brie and discard. Set Brie aside. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. 2. Peel and core pears, then slice ¼-inch (1-cm) thick. Lay on a generously buttered baking sheet in a single layer. Roast in oven for 15 minutes. Turn slices and continue roasting 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are caramelized and brown. Arrange pear slices overlapping in a circle overtop Brie. Refrigerate, uncovered, for up to half a day.
  3. 3. When ready to serve, heat in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven 10 to 12 minutes or until softened. Sprinkle with thyme and serve with slices of fresh baguette and crackers.
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Pickles, pickling and you

You don’t need to get yourself into a pickle. Canning your cukes is easy when you know how!

First, get out to your farmers market and get yourself some beautiful baby cukes.

Kirby or Persian cucumbers are the best variety to choose as they hold up their crunch factor without becoming soft and mushy. No one wants a soft or mushy pickle.

So why pickle you ask? Well first, you will know exactly what is going into your pickles, there will be no weird additives or unlabelled shenanigans in your final product.

Second, fermentation. This gives your gut the healthy bacteria that it needs to flourish and keep your immune system healthy.

Third, it is easy!

You can can your pickles using a hot water bath method, or you can just jar them and put them in the fridge. Canning will allow you to store them for about a year.

Did you know that you can also pickle other veg? Okra and green beans are always favorites, but garlic scapes and carrots work well too. Get creative and try pickling other veg from your garden. What ever veg you choose should be ripe and firm to the touch.

Grab some dill, some garlic, vinegar and cukes and let’s get into a pickle!

The Brine

A basic brine will be made of equal parts vinegar and water mixed with salt. It then gets poured over the cucumbers and turns your veg into pickley goodness! You can of course eat them straight away, but the longer you leave them soaking in the brine, the better the flavor!

Keeping the ratios the same you will be able to make more or less brine depending on the amount of veg you would like to ferment. You can also play around with different spices and vinegars. Experiment with cider or homemade vinegars, mustard seed, red pepper flakes.. .the possibilities are endless!

To Process or Not to Process

If you want to keep your pickles for up to a year, you will need to process them. If you just want to reach into the fridge and grab some on the go you will not.

You can make the recipe below and decide which you will want to do, process or not. If you want to keep them for up to a year, then you will need to hot water bathe them for about 5 minutes. The only downside is that the hot water will cook the pickles a little bit and sometimes make your pickles a bit soft. If you would like them to stay crunchy, just skip the hot water bath and them in the fridge. They will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

So there you have it, easy breezy pickle making. What kinds of veg will you try to get into a pickle?

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Make Dill Pickles!
Course preserves
Cuisine Pickling
Course preserves
Cuisine Pickling
  1. Get your jars ready: If you are going to can your pickles you will need to boil and sterilize the jars and their lids. If you are planning to make refrigerator pickles, washing the jars and lids is fine.
  2. Prepare the cukes: Wash and dry the cucumbers. Be sure to trim away the blossom end of the cucumber, as it contains enzymes that can lead to limp pickles. You can leave the cucumbers whole,  or cut them into spears, or whichever shape you like.
  3. Spice up your veg: Divide the spices of your choice between the jars
  4. Pack the cucumbers: Pack the cucumbers  into the jars. Leaving about 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly.
  5. Pickling brine: Combine the vinegar, water, salt and other spices in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Pour the brine over the cucumbers. Fill each jar to within 1/4-inch of the top.
  6. Remove the air bubbles: Gently tap your jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more brine if needed.
  7. Tighten the lids: Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
  8. If Processing: For longer shelf life your pickles will need a hot water bath. Fill your canner with enough water to cover the jars by a full inch. Boil the water, place jars into boiling water, wait for water to return to a boil and keep them in there for 10 minutes. Once they are finished, use tongs and carefully take jars out and let them cool.  
  9. Cool and refrigerate: Let the jars cool to room temperature. If you processed the jars, they can be stored on the shelf. If unprocessed, store the pickles in the fridge. The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.
Recipe Notes

Storing canned pickles: Canned pickles will keep for at least a year on the shelf and for several weeks in the refrigerator once opened; refrigerator pickles will keep for several weeks.

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Edible Flowers for your Vibrant garden

These edible flowers for your vibrant garden are flowers that you don’t want to miss planting and eating! Let’s take a look at a few that will make lovely additions to your garden and your plate!

Lavender –  oh sweet relaxing lavender, how I love you!

A little lavender goes a long way in any recipe. The flavour is quite strong so remember to use sparingly.  English lavender is the touted as the best for culinary uses. You should harvest your lavender right before the flowers fully open to get the essential oils while they are most potent.

Put a few dry buds in a sugar jar and use for baking. You can also chop a few of the fresh bud and bake with them by just adding them to the dough. Sprinkle a bit on a salad for a pretty garnish or use it to infuse lemonade or tea.

Check out Bon Appetit Recipe for shortbread here:

And genius kitchens recipe for herbs de Provence

Chive & garlic Blossoms This pretty, light purple, edible flower has a light onion flavor. Chive blossoms can be tossed in a salad or, more commonly, used to garnish a dish. garlic chives produce edible white flowers with a garlic flavor that is stronger than the leaf itself.

Hello epicurious….

Food and Wine:

Squash Blossoms

These are much more popular than I knew and quite versatile! Fried, baked or added to pasta, these blooms are delish! But remember, if you pick the blossom there will be no squash, so don’t pick them all!

Fried: This is one of the most popular ways to prepare squash blossoms. You just batter and fry them. You could even stuff them first with ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and/ or goat cheese, add your favorite herbs  like, basil, thyme or parsley and you will have yourself a side dish that is amazing! Try squeezing a little lemon and salt and pepper over them to finish them off.

Baked: If deep frying turns you off, or you just want to try something different, you could stuff the blossoms with cheese – savory or sweet – and then bake them in the oven. Steaming is another healthy option.

So there you have it! Edible flowers for your vibrant garden! Why not get started today?


Sourdough Banana Bread

Love my sourdough!

Finding new ways to use my starter every weekend! This past weekend I made sourdough banana bread. It is vegan and delish! Why not try it yourself?

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Sourdough Banana Bread
Course snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course snack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
  1. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Mix in the sourdough starter and mashed bananas.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to banana mixture and mix just until combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Pour the batter into two greased 9x5-inch bread pan. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool completely prior to slicing.
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Cauliflower Skillet Pizza

Pizza and my skillet, two of our favorite things! This cauliflower skillet Pizza is gluten-free and so good, you wonder why you ever ordered takeout! I wouldn’t skimp on the Parmesan, the good stuff makes this a taste sensation! Grab your cauliflower and skillet and let’s get started!


3 cups cauliflower, chopped fine

2 1/2  cups shredded mozzarella, divided

2 large eggs

1 cup. freshly grated Parmesan, divided

3 tbsp of your favorite pizza sauce

1 clove garlic smashed and chopped finely

Salt & pepper to taste

Toppings of your choice


Preheat oven to 425º.

Grease your cast-iron skillet well.

Mix the cauliflower, ½ the mozzarella, both eggs, 1/2 the Parmesan, and the garlic together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Press the cauliflower mixture into the bottom and sides of the skillet and bake it in a 425 degree oven until deep golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Take out of the oven.

Be careful as the pan will be quite hot!

Spoon pizza sauce over crust and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Top with favorite toppings and bake 5 minutes more.

Enjoy, this delicious better than take-out cauliflower skillet pizza!