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What's in Season Right Now? (Winter 2016)

Beets

Seasonality of what you consume is more important than ever. Not only are restaurants adopting the practice of creating dishes that use ingredients that are in season, but many grocery stores are also beginning to do the same.

One of the most important things you can do is to arm yourself with the knowledge of what's in season during certain months so you can make the most out of the produce.

In-season produce not only tastes better, but you're also supporting the local farmers and eliminating your carbon footprint by minimizing orders for items that aren't available in your area, but are grown across the world and have to be shipped.

Here's what's in season during Winter 2016. Continue reading “What's in Season Right Now? (Winter 2016)” »

The Best Winter Herbs to Grow (and Eat)

Herbs

The winter can be frustrating for some. There's fewer hours of daylight, the weather can be bone-chillingly cold, and you find yourself rotating between squash, brussels sprouts, and bread. It can get dull and repetitive.

But just because it’s colder, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your herb garden. Growing fresh food should be a thing you can do 365 days a year.

So, here are some herbs that do a little better in chilly weather—the perfect winter herbs to grow and eat. Continue reading “The Best Winter Herbs to Grow (and Eat)” »

6 Spooky but Fresh Recipes Perfect for Halloween

jack o lantern

Halloween is here, and everyone is busy putting together last minute Halloween costumes. Instead of simply serving buckets of candy this year at your Halloween gathering, why not make some deliciously ghoulish dishes instead?

Here are six spooky but fresh recipes perfect for Halloween, featuring herbs, microgreens, and vegetables. Continue reading “6 Spooky but Fresh Recipes Perfect for Halloween” »

Learn About... Flax

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"Learn About..." is a recurring post where we'll look at lesser known herbs, greens, etc., and discuss their origin, health benefits, and everything in between!

leaves Continue reading “Learn About... Flax” »

What's in Season Right Now? (Fall 2016)

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Seasonality of what you consume is more important than ever. Not only are restaurants adopting the practice of creating dishes that use ingredients that are in season, but many grocery stores are also beginning to do the same.

One of the most important things you can do is to arm yourself with the knowledge of what's in season during certain months so you can make the most out of the produce.

In-season produce not only tastes better, but you're also supporting the local farmers and eliminating your carbon footprint by minimizing orders for items that aren't available in your area, but are grown across the world and have to be shipped.

Here's what's in season during Fall 2016. Continue reading “What's in Season Right Now? (Fall 2016)” »

Usher in Autumn With These Awesome Recipes Featuring Fall Herbs

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Summer is great and all with its hot, sunny days and patio dinners, but there's something beautiful about fall. Between fall fashion and comforting dishes, autumn is one of our favorite season.

Of course, one of the downsides to summer to coming to an end is the lack of variety in fresh produce. Worry not, though: autumn's also got an all-star line-up of flavor.

To help usher in our favorite season, we've rounded up some of the tastiest recipes featuring fall herbs. So, pull out your best knit sweater and whip up these dishes!

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Fenugreek-Leaves

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a lesser used herb, but you shouldn't fear it: it carries a sweet smell resembles that of maple syrup, and taste like burnt sugar.

While both the seeds and leaves are edible, they have very different physical properties. The seeds resemble corn kernels and are hard, and the leaves are flat and looks like mint.

Fenugreek is common in Southern Asia, popular in Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine. Try it in Chicken Katsu Curry and Saag Aloo with Roasted Gobi Curry.

Read more on fenugreek here.

Chicken Katsu Curry (via BBC Food)
Saag Aloo with Roasted Gobi Curry (via BBC Food)

chopped chive over white background

Chives

Chives can be oniony or garlicky in flavor (depending on the variety) and can be used fresh or dried, and even its light purplish flowers are edible. The entire length of the tubular leaf is used in foods. Chinese chives have flat and wider stems than regular chives.

This is one of the most common herbs used across the globe. Try it in some new recipes, like Buttered Noodles with Chives or Shallot Tarte Tatin with Whipped Goat's Cheese and Watercress.

Buttered Noodles with Chives (via Food Network)
Shallot Tarte Tatin with Whipped Goat's Cheese and Watercress (via BBC Food)

Fresh-Sage-Leaves

Sage

Sage isn't only known for its hearty, savory flavor, but studies on the herb have shown that sage does in fact improve memory, attention/executive function, alertness and mood after getting doses of sage.

It's one of the essential herbs for all cooks, used mostly in Italian, British, American, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Try making Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Parmesan, and Roast Chicken with Sage and Garlic, recipes which prominently feature the earthy herb.

Read more about sage and its benefits here.

Pasta with Butter, Sage, and Parmesan (via NYT)
Roast Chicken with Sage and Garlic (via Saveur)

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Sorrel

Sorrel is a lovely herb that has a tart taste. There are three major types of sorrel: French sorrel, broad leaf sorrel, and red-veined sorrel. The latter is often used for decorative purposes due to the contrast between the lime green leaves and crimson veins that run along them. While more attractive than the French and broad leaf varieties, red-veined sorrel's flavor is the same.

Because of its sour flavor, it lends itself well to desserts like Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue.

Learn more about sorrel here.

French Sorrel Soup (via Honest Food)
Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue (via Imbibe)

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Tarragon

Tarragon is one of the four major herbs in French cooking, and is often used for chicken, fish, and egg dishes. You'll probably recognize its flavor being a major component of Béarnaise sauce.

There are three types of tarragon: French tarragon, Russian tarragon, and wild tarragon; French tarragon is best for culinary purposes. Try tarragon in Tarragon Chicken and Creamy Chicken with Asparagus and Tarragon.

Tarragon Chicken (via Food Network)
Creamy Chicken with Asparagus and Tarragon (via BBC Good Food)

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Parsley

Parsley is probably one of the most popular herbs in the world. It's used to season meats, soups, stews and potato dishes, but it's often used as a garnish or as a palette cleanser because of its natural fresh flavor.

As it's one of the most commonly used herbs in the world, it's probably time that you try some new recipes featuring the ubiquitous herb, like Lamb and Veal Meatloaf Polpettone or Uchucuta Sauce with Lamb Chops.

Lamb and Veal Meatloaf Polpettone (via Cooking Channel)
Uchucuta Sauce with Lamb Chops (via The Guardian)

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While these recipes are bonafide hits, fall weather may have you wishing that you could make some pesto with fresh basil.

And, with an Urban Cultivator, you can do just that, no matter what season it is. Featuring automated lighting, watering, and temperature functions, you can grow a number of microgreens and herbs in the comfort of your own home.

What herbs or vegetables are you most excited for this fall? Let us know in the comments section!

Here's Why the Health World is Crazy For Chlorella

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You may have heard of chlorella before—often used in smoothies and known to have major health benefits—but do you know what it actually is and what it can do for your body?

Chlorella is the latest superfood, an all-natural supplement that's native to Japan and Taiwan. It's an algae (similar to spirulina), and it boasts a number of benefits: boosting cardiovascular health, counter the negative effects of radiation, promoting normal hormonal function, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

It is rich in vitamin B, magnesium, amino acids, beta carotene, potassium, phosphorus, and perhaps its most important component, chlorophyll, which gives chlorella a deep green hue.

We've gone over the many benefits of including chlorophyll into one's diet, so here's a quick recap.

Chlorophyll's main nutrient is magnesium and has the ability to strengthen cells, cleanse the body and maintain functioning of circulatory and intestinal systems, and more.

chlorealla

Now, back to chlorella. Just one ounce of chlorella has 16 grams of protein, and is one of the most nutrient-dense foods. Per gram, it has more nutrients than greens such as spinach, kale, and new health world darling, broccoli. Yes, chlorella is even healthier than broccoli, which has cancer-fighting properties.

Chlorella's detoxifying properties is one of the biggest reasons as to why people have turned to the health food. Heavy metals, which you may carry in your body through vaccinations, fish, radiation exposure, or tooth fillings, can do damage to our bodies. But chlorella will wrap itself around such toxins, keeping them from being reabsorbed.

Studies have also shown that chlorella can boost one's immune system, promote weight loss, regulate hormones (which can benefit one's metabolism), and increase energy levels.

Chlorella also reduces oxidative stress that's most often caused by poor diets, stress, and pollution, the three of which can speed up the ageing process. High levels of vitamin A and C is also good for our skin. It also helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

Chlorella most commonly comes in pill and powder form. One tip: be sure to purchase cracked cell wall chlorella, as its exterior cellular walls are actually tough for humans to digest. Ironically, researchers believe that it's these walls that help to remove toxins from the human body.

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Of course, different people appear to react to chlorella differently. Some side effects have been reported, including indigestion, fatigue, vertigo, and lethargy.

The easiest way to introduce chlorella into your diet? Through a smoothie! Try this smoothie recipe out featuring chlorella, courtesy of Vega.

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Supercharged Blueberry Chlorella Smoothie

Ingredients
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ of a banana
1 tsp powdered chlorella
1 cup cold water
2 or 3 ice cubes (optional)

Method
Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

Have you tried chlorella before? How do you like to consume it? Let us know in the comments section!

Financial Post Catches Up With Urban Cultivator

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Recently, Financial Post spoke to our CEO Tarren Wolfe as a part of a series that FP Entrepreneur is doing about what Dragons' Den alumni have been doing since signing their respective deals.

Needless to say, we were very excited to share our news due to the progress we've seen over the past five years. Since signing a deal with Arlene Dickinson, we've increased our international reach with dealers and distributors worldwide, installed units in Michelin-star restaurants, and opened our flagship Living Produce Aisle store.

Take a look at some of the highlights from Tarren's interview with Financial Post.

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On the current state of food and its delivery:
"Our food delivery system doesn’t make sense. Why are we shipping food all around the world, food that’s losing nutritional value by the hour, and wasting fuel to do that, when we can grow micro greens anywhere pretty easily?"

On our collaboration with Microsoft:
Urban Cultivator appliances are seen all across Microsoft campuses, growing microgreens to feed its employees. In addition to its presence at Microsoft, the company's engineers, who want to feed the hungry, are working with Urban Cultivator to develop a product that will address world hunger.

On Living Produce Aisle:
"We sell flats to restaurants and live cut smoothies, live cut micro green salads [...] The initial goal was to create a better showroom for potential buyers of the cultivator. It's great because it also enforces the education around why live food is better in general, and people can see it’s attainable. We developed a new consumables program that has expandable seed sheets. And we’re moving lots of cultivators out of it, too."

On our company's future plans:
"We're developing a machine that can operate completely self-sufficiently. So it can run on the streets of India or Africa to feed the poor."

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Read the Financial Post article in full over at their site. For immediately updates, sign up for Urban Cultivator's newsletter below, and follow UC on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Learn About... Dill

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"Learn About..." is a recurring post where we'll look at lesser known herbs, greens, etc., and discuss their origin, health benefits, and everything in between!

leaves

Dill certainly isn't a stranger to your kitchen. Heck, it's often a part of those herb starter packs. You've had it in dips, on pizzas, and with fish, but do you really know what this tart herb's all about?

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Dill, or Anethum graveolens, most likely originated in the Mediterranean area, and was used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Dating back as far as 5,000 years ago, it was used in Egypt as a "soothing medicine."

The herb was—and still is—used widely in Greek culture, often burned as a scented oil or used in wine.

Legend has it that later on in history, it quickly became a rare herb that was taxed or tithed in some cultures. Edward I of England, for example, didn't have enough money to fix the London Bridge, so he instead imposed a tax on dill!

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Dill is chock full of vitamin A, C, and manganese, and while it does have all these nutrients, it's known most for its vibrant flavor.

Most often, dill is paired with fish to bring out seafood's natural freshness.

It also goes well with artichokes, cabbage, cheese, eggplant, figs, olives, onions, pork, rice, sausage, and tomatoes, and pairs with a number of fellow herbs. It's used worldwide, to give you a better idea of just how versatile it is, from India to Hungary to China.

Ready to make some dill-inspired dishes? Try the recipes below!

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Smoked Salmon on Mustard-Chive and Dill Butter Toasts

via Food 52

Ingredients
10 ounces of the best quality smoked salmon in medium-thin slices (Norwegian or Wild Alaskan)
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
31/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely chopped chives or green onions
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 thin, long French Baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices

Method
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place bread slices on baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Let cool.

Mix butter, lemon juice and zest, chives, mustard, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl until well blended. Cover and refrigerate. B

ring to room temperature before using. Spread a thick layer of the mustard- chive butter and place a slice of smoked salmon on top of each toast. Place on a platter or serving tray and serve.

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Lunch Recipe: Golden Quinoa Salad with Lemon, Dill & Avocado

via The Kitchn

Ingredients
1 cup golden quinoa
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
8 small red radishes, well-cleaned and tops removed
1/3 seedless English cucumber, about 1/4 pound, unpeeled
1 large shallot
2/3 lightly filled cup dill fronds, without stems
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke*
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit for a vegan adaptation)
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe avocado, to serve

Method
Rinse the quinoa for 2 to 3 minutes in a fine mesh strainer, rubbing vigorously. Drain. Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment and spread the cooked quinoa over it in an even layer. Let cool while preparing the vegetables.

Dice the radishes finely — about 1/4-inch to a side. Do the same with the cucumber. Finely dice the shallot. Finely chop the dill fronds. Toss with the quinoa in a large bowl.

Zest the lemon right into the bowl and fold in the zest. Juice the lemon half and whisk the juice together with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and liquid smoke until emulsified and thick. Toss this with the quinoa.

Fold in the almonds, chopped dates, and Parmesan. Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, top with chopped avocado.

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Dill is easy to grow, but its seeds are not very common. It's often grown indoors, in a pot placed in water, and takes as long as a month or more to grow. With an Urban Cultivator, though, it's as easy as one, two, three!

When using an Urban Cultivator, dill only takes about two to three weeks. As dill requires a lot of water to grow, the automatic watering function of the Urban Cultivator will save you a ton of time.

All you need to plant, and you'll be ready to harvest in no time!

What do you like to do with dill? Let us know in the comments section!

What's in Season Right Now? (Summer 2016)

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Seasonality of what you consume is more important than ever. Not only are restaurants adopting the practice of creating dishes that use ingredients that are in season, but many grocery stores are also beginning to do the same.

One of the most important things you can do is to arm yourself with the knowledge of what's in season during certain months so you can make the most out of the produce.

In-season produce not only tastes better, but you're also supporting the local farmers and eliminating your carbon footprint by minimizing orders for items that aren't available in your area, but are grown across the world and have to be shipped.

Here's what's in season during Summer 2016. Continue reading “What's in Season Right Now? (Summer 2016)” »

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